As is typical with many THP clients, “Rick” initiated services with us at his time of diagnosis, 10 years ago. At that time, he shared his initial shock and grief with me (I was his first Case Manager), and together, we processed through the facts. Many new clients, and often the community at large, don’t know basic information about HIV: what it is, how it is treated, or how it can be passed from person to person. Rick met with me on a weekly basis, sometimes checking in several times a week with questions, until he felt satisfied that he understood his HIV status and his treatment options. He chose a local clinic, established a relationship with his doctor, and delved into the world of medication.
New HIV patients initially receive bloodwork called a genotype that studies their particular version of the HIV virus and matches it to the medications that will be most effective in treatment. After this visit, patients are generally seen by their providers 8 times annually: quarterly visits for bloodwork, each followed within 2 weeks by a visit with the doctor to review the bloodwork. Patients’ HIV Viral Load (the amount of HIV virus in their bodies) is measured regularly, and reveals whether medications are working effectively and whether the patient takes them consistently. Patients are sometimes surprised that their Case Manager knows they aren’t taking their medicine, but the labs will show their adherence clearly, giving us direction in helping them manage their diagnosis.
Rick attended his medical appointments and took his meds faithfully. He gradually rebounded from his initial diagnosis, returning to work and falling into a good routine. He let us know that he would check in if he needed us, and “graduated” from case management.
Fast forward to 2017: Rick remains adherent to his HIV regimen and appointments, but in the past 10 years, determined that he was uncomfortable with his drinking. He reconnected with us to talk about resources. With our help, Rick was able to find a “recovery house” where he could live and support/be supported by other self-identified alcoholics. He began attending regular AA meetings, and was referred to a weekly therapist based out of his HIV clinic, as well as to THP’s Higher Ground for group help. As a team, myself, Rick’s physician, his therapist, Higher Ground, and even THP’s receptionist and other staff helped Rick with resources and love and comforted him through this short time of need.
Now, Rick has “graduated” again. He remains in touch with us at THP and Higher Ground, and we run into him at the clinic during his regular HIV care visits, now only twice a year because of his stalwart attendance and consistent treatment over the past 10 years. Many clients at THP, like Rick, remember the experience they have when they meet us. Later on, when life challenges them, they still turn to us for that love and we are honored to be here.
– by Amy Reese, THP Clinical Director