Frequently Asked Questions
1. I have no insurance – Can I get medical care and how much will it cost?
There are many grant and federally funded programs to cover the cost of care and medications for people with HIV. You may qualify for one or more of them. Our Ryan White clinic will see anyone with HIV regardless of ability to pay. To learn if you qualify for medical coverage programs, call us at 419 383-6843and ask to speak to a Social Worker. You can also call ARC (Aids Resource Center) at 419 241-9444 and speak to a Case Manager
2. I was just diagnosed with HIV and am scared to death -- what is the difference between HIV and AIDS?
HIV is the human immunodeficiency virus. It is the virus that can lead to acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS. HIV damages a person’s body by destroying specific blood cells, called CD4+ T cells, which are crucial to helping the body fight diseases.
AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. Acquired – means that the disease is not hereditary but develops from contact with a disease-causing agent (in this case, HIV).Immunodeficiency – means that the disease is characterized by a weakening of the immune system.Syndrome – refers to a group of symptoms that indicate or characterize a disease. In the case of AIDS, this can include the development of certain infections and/or cancers, as well as a decrease in the number of certain specific blood cells, called CD4 or T cells, which are crucial to helping the body fight disease.
Before the development of certain medications, people with HIV could progress to AIDS in just a few years. Currently people can live much longer - even decades - with HIV before they develop AIDS. They may not even develop AIDS. This is because of “highly active” combinations of medications that were introduced in the mid 1990s.A diagnosis of AIDS is made by a physician using specific clinical or laboratory standards.
3. I have heard that Magic Johnson was cured - is that true
Magic Johnson would be the first to tell you that he is not “cured”. He takes the same medications that may be prescribed for other patients. He takes them as prescribed, he exercises, eats well and takes care of himself. He travels around the country as a speaker, encouraging others to do the same.
4. I have some insurance, but my coverage for prescriptions is poor and I have heard that the meds cost a lot of money - is there any way I can get help with this
Through federal programs and grants, patients who meet financial guidelines can get help with the cost or co-pays of many of their medications. The UTMC Ryan White Clinic has a pharmacy specifically for our patients. Trained professionals can help you find the best prices and help you understand your medications.
5. Do the medicines really work ?
Once a patient starts medications, the results of their blood work can verify that medications are working. Within 4-6 weeks, CD4/T cells go up and viral load (the amount of virus in a blood sample) goes down. A patient can see the success of treatment each time they get their blood work back.
6. Are the good medications only available for people like Magic Johnson who have money?
Magic Johnson’s medications are not a secret. They are ones that are regularly prescribed to others. He takes them because he and his physician felt they were the best for him. Everyone with HIV needs an individual plan and that is what we offer each patient, a plan of care, medications, and supportive services. The unique thing about Mr. Johnson is that he doesn’t have the financial worries that most people do.
Here’s a great site for all your questions: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/az.htm or call the Ohio STD/HIV Hotline at 800 332-AIDS or call the Ryan White Clinic at 418-383-6843