Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School


When to Call A Doctor

Your doctor can help you protect yourself against HIV. Let your doctor know if you are a man who has sex with men or if you share needles with anyone for any reason (intravenous drugs or steroids, for example). If you are a woman and think your male partner may have risk factors for HIV infection, please let your doctor know. Your doctor can give you information about how to reduce your risk of HIV.

You should also speak with your doctor if you think you may already have HIV infection so that you can be tested for the disease. If you have long-lasting headache, cough, diarrhea, skin sores or are having fevers or losing weight, let your doctor know. Even without any symptoms, the sooner you get tested for HIV, the sooner appropriate treatment can be started than can help you live a long, healthy life.

Call your doctor immediately if you believe that you have been exposed to the body fluids of someone who has HIV or AIDS. If your exposure is felt to be significant, your doctor may recommend that you take antiretrovirals that may decrease your risk of getting HIV/AIDS. These drugs work best when they are taken within 72 hours (3 days) of the exposure.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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