Below are answers to some common health questions by Rhode Island gay men living with HIV.
- As a person living with HIV/AIDS in Rhode Island, are there any laws to protect me from discrimination in the workplace and where I live?
Yes. Rhode Island has anti-discrimination laws that prohibit discrimination based on HIV status. Here is a link that provides a full description of the laws: HIV Anti-discrimination Law in Rhode Island
- I’m HIV positive and am concerned about my health insurance. Will my premiums go up? Will my policy be cancelled because I am HIV positive?
No. If you are currently have health insurance and you just learned you are HIV positive, you should not be dropped by your insurance carrier and your insurance premiums should not go up.
It is recommended that you review your insurance plan to get a better understanding of the costs you may incur related to co-payments, deductibles, and other fees that may be associated with doctor visits and drug prescriptions for HIV. You can do this by contacting your insurance carrier by phone or reviewing materials you may have received when you signed up for the insurance plan. Your doctor’s office might be also able to help you with this.
For people without insurance, the treatment of HIV is covered for most people in Rhode Island. Please call the Project (401-831-5522) to learn more about services for you.
- I just learned I am HIV positive and want to know if I need a special doctor for my HIV medical care or if I can just go to my regular doctor?
If you just tested positive for HIV at a community location, it is important that you share this information with your primary care doctor. Your primary care doctor will refer you to a HIV doctor and they can work together to determine the best ways to take care of your medical needs.
If you don’t have a regular doctor, give The Project a call (401-831-5522) and we can help you get the medical care you need.
- I’m nervous about other people finding out that I am HIV positive. Is there any way they can find out?
Any medical information about your HIV status that is on file at your doctor’s office or the RI Department is considered confidential and can only be released with your permission. Your medical information is protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Click here to learn more about HIPAA: Understanding HIPAA
You also need to make decisions about disclosing your HIV status to relatives, friends, co-workers, and other people in your life. It is important to think through how people may respond to your HIV status and the possible implications it could have on your relationships. Before making any decisions, you may want to check out the following website to get a better understanding of this very important, sensitive and personal issue: HIV Disclosure Tips
- I’ve recently heard about alot of advancements in medicine to help people with HIV live longer and healthier lives. Is this true?
Yes. There have been many advances in medicine to help people with HIV lead longer and healthier lives. It is important to regularly see a doctor who specializes in the field of HIV care and to be sure to always take the medicine that is prescribed to you. Many people with HIV can take a single pill once a day to treat their HIV with minimal to no side-effects.
- I recently found out I am HIV positive and I want the people I recently had sex with be informed that they should get an HIV test. Who can help me with this in Rhode Island?
The Rhode Island Department of Health provides services that help inform people that they should get an HIV test. Here is a link to a description of the services: Rhode Island Department of Health Partner Services
Any information you provide is anonymous and confidential.
- I just learned that I am HIV+. I feel alone, depressed, and feel like my life is over. I don’t know how to handle it. What should I do?
Many people suffer from depression when they first learn they are HIV positive. It is important to seek help and support from friends, family, or trained professionals. People with HIV can live normal, healthy lives. Recent advancements in medications and treatments have allowed people with HIV to achieve almost the same life expectancy as people without HIV.
If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or ending your life, you should either go to a hospital emergency room or you can call the national suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
The Project also has same-day appointments for people who have HIV who want to talk to someone. Just give us a call at 401-831-5522.
- What services does AIDS Project Rhode Island provide for people who are HIV+? Are there any eligibility requirements to receive services?
The Project offers a variety of non-medical services for people with HIV/AIDS. There are income eligibility requirements and our clients must reside in Rhode Island.
- Is there a single publication for people with HIV in Rhode Island to help them learn about and access available resources?
Yes. There is a publication called “I Just Found Out…Frequently asked Questions About Your HIV Test in Rhode Island” that is full of helpful information about having HIV and how to access services. Call us at 401-831-5522 to request a free copy or check it out online at I Just Found Out.
If you want to learn about general information online about being HIV positive go to www.TheBody.com, www.cdc.gov/hiv/, and www.health.ri.gov/diseases/hivaids/.