Black Issues : If A Patient Tests Positive

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Back to home » HIV 101 » POZ Focus » Black Issues

Table of Contents

HIV Care in the Black Community

It's Our Community and It's Our Fight

Prevention And Testing: How To Talk With Patients

If A Patient Tests Positive

Common HIV-Care Myths Among Docs

Calling All Doctors

Fears vs. Facts


Give and Get Support at

Adhere To This

Resources For Non-HIV Docs

Resources For Your Patients

HIV Docs Share Treatment Smarts

HIV Medications and Pregnancy

What You're Talking About
Why I Still (Kinda, Sorta) Go to the Gym (blog) (37 comments)

Sanctuary for Survivors (26 comments)

The CDC Dives Into the Great American Circumcision Debate (16 comments)

Why Nancy Reagan Refused a Dying Rock Hudson's Plea (12 comments)

The Treatment Divide: When’s the Best Time to Start HIV Meds? (12 comments)

Health Insurer Aetna Sued for Alleged HIV Discrimination (11 comments)
Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV


If A Patient Tests Positive

It can be an emotional moment. Get ready.

Do: Prepare in advance. Ask  an AIDS service organization (ASO) caseworker to sit in when you inform the patient. He or she can handle counseling and education on appropriate next steps. If no ASO exists in your area, contact your local department of health for counseling tips. The AIDS Education and Training Center’s National HIV/AIDS Clinician’s Consultation  Center can also help you prepare (800-933-3413;

Don’t:  Give results over the phone or say, “If we don’t call  you, everything’s fine.” Deliver results in person.

Do: Be direct. Tell your patient, “We’ve received the results of your blood work, and the HIV test came back positive,” says Los Angeles infectious-disease specialist Wilbert Jordan, MD. “The best thing we can do is tell you—and sooner rather than later.”

Do:   Inform your patient that HIV is a chronic disease, not a death sentence. And be empathetic and comforting. If you need to see others, allow your patient to sit in a waiting room and check in on him or her.

Don’t: Let your patient fall through the cracks. Handle the diagnosis the same way you’d handle any other finding that needs to be evaluated by another doctor. Provide your patient with the name and phone number of an HIV or infectious disease specialist. Ask the caseworker to accompany him or her to the appointment.

Do: Ask if there’s anyone your patient wants you to speak to on his or her behalf, says New York HIV specialist Theresa Mack, MD.

Don’t:  Neglect to treat other health conditions. Provide the rest of your patient’s routine medical care or subspecialty care.

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