Living well with HIV/AIDS requires patients to take charge of their health - both
physically and mentally. If patients feel overwhelmed by anxiety or depression, are
dealing with an emotional crisis, or just need someone to talk to, our counselors
at the UTMC Ryan White Program can help - often the same day.
Mental Health Counseling is provided on-site for HIV+ individuals by UTMC Ryan White staff.
- General Support Group
People living with HIV are invited to the Educational Support Group. We have 3 support groups and they meet once a month. Come and learn how others with similar concerns are managing their lives while sharing your own experiences in a supportive, confidential environment.
One-on-one counseling is available to help patients address specific concerns or get connected with needed services. Generally, acute needs can be addressed the same day, or with an appointment within 72 hours. If needed, treatment can include a wide variet of options such as individual counseling, medication, and training in stress management just to name a few. Whatever the course of action, it's important to note that all Ryan White staff has training and experience in working with people who are living with HIV/AIDS and are available to help.
The Ryan White Program has a Financial Counselor/Benefits Coordinator whose responsibility it is to handle all financial aspects of the program including patient medical care coverage issues. Understanding medical coverage may be complicated and a Financial Counselor can help navigate systems, find benefits, and access resources. We will help you learn about the special services and pharmacy that the Ryan White Program offers to patients.
Historically, a critical challenge facing HIV patients has been the confusion and stress
of repeatedly explaining existing medical conditions and new symptoms to a variety
of doctors and specialists, as well as the difficulty of scheduling and keeping appointments
with different health care providers in various locations.
The UTMC Ryan White program offers a full range of services on-site - including primary health care. UTMC Ryan White medical providers become familiar with a patient's complete medical history, resulting in more coordinated care, and less stress for the patient. Our providers are accomplished medical practitioners with years of primary care as well as Infectious Diseases experience, and are committed to providing the best medical care possible.
Nutrition is an essential component in the care of HIV-infected individuals. Almost
from the onset, HIV infection causes changes in nutritional status. Our goal is to
help patients stay healthy longer and slow the progression of the disease. Early individualized
nutrition intervention can enhance the patient's quality of life.
Our on-site registered dietitian can help patients make nutrition part of their overall health care. Each patient will have an initial nutritional assessment and an appropriate meal plan will be designed based on the individual’s dietary needs. The dietitian can:
- Provide education on nutrition topics including balanced diet, safe food handling, and exercise.
- Ensure that patients understand their energy and nutrient needs.
- Help patients manage nutrition-related symptoms and side effects of treatment. .
- Assess the need for nutritional supplementation.
- Address other nutrition-related illnesses such as diabetes, high cholesterol levels, or high blood pressure.
- Help patients prevent weight loss and potential wasting.
- Make referrals to additional food resources.
Treatment Adherence Counseling
HIV medications are very effective at keeping patients healthy, but medications need
to be taken at least 95 percent of the time in order to lower the viral load and increase
CD4 (T-cell) counts - and missing as few as two doses a month could decrease the effectiveness
of the medications. Taking medications as prescribed might be easier if the medications
were "easy" on the body. But because of combination therapies, ("drug cocktails")
side effects, interactions between HIV and non-HIV medications, busy schedules and
psychosocial barriers, many patients have trouble keeping up with the demands of therapy.
Through a client-centered approach, the UTMC Ryan White Program can help patients manage their treatment by providing education, encouragement and hands-on support.
Treatment Adherence Counseling can help patients:
- Learn more about treatment, including side effects, viral load, CD4, lab results, interactions between HIV and non-HIV medications, etc.
- Manage new treatments
- Customize medication plans to fit each patient's lifestyle
- Develop special dosing of medications if needed (for example special dosing for patients with kidney problems)
- Understand feelings related to treatment
- Take their medications, by providing
- Follow-up visits and reminders via telephone
- Home visits if necessary