Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust
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HIV service
HIV service

HIV services: The HIV psychology unit

Psychological counselling can help you explore any personal problems, you experience in relation to your health and examine alternative ways of dealing with them. When you first find out that you have HIV you might have difficulty adjusting to the diagnosis or deciding who to tell. You might suffer from changes in mood such as feeling low, anxious or stressed. This can be hard to cope with alone and you may find it useful to see a psychologist. There may be other times when seeing a psychologist can be helpful in dealing with the effects of HIV on your life:

  • Anxiety or depression related to your health
  • Negotiating safer sex
  • Planning for pregnancy
  • Caring for, and dealing with, children with or affected by HIV infection
  • Starting or stopping treatment
  • Coping with body shape changes
  • Bereavement
  • Sexual problems
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Sexuality
  • Disclosing your HIV status to partners, family, children or others
  • Exploring life options after significant changes in your health and planning for the future- i.e. living well with a chronic condition.
  • Support for families and partners

The psychologists working in the HIV psychology unit have experience in dealing with a wide range of emotional and personal problems and have particular experience of working with people with HIV, their partners and families.

Psychologists do not prescribe medication, but are able to help people think about when such treatments may be appropriate. We work closely with the liaison psychiatrist who sees patients in the ICDC.

If you would like to see a psychologist, please speak to any member of staff who can assist you with making a referral. This could be your doctor or nurse. There is a short referral form to complete. If you have any further questions or wish to discuss a referral yourself, please call the psychology unit on the number below. After referral you will be seen by one of our team for an assessment. Sometimes one session will be enough, and at other times several appointments may be needed.

Contact details:

HIV psychology unit - 020 7830 2445

page last reviewed: 17 December 2012