Getting help from an HIV/AIDS hotline

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You had some great sex with a new boo but forgot to use a condom and now you’re in a panic.

You missed a day of your HIV meds and you’re wondering what’ll happen.

You just got diagnosed with HIV, feel unsure or alone, and have a million questions.

Fortunately, there’s always somebody you can talk to — a friendly voice that will offer judgment-free advice and support.  

That’s what an HIV/AIDS hotline is for.

Professionals are ready to answer your questions on basic HIV-related issues. If you have more advanced questions, they can advise you on who to call or how to talk to your doctors. While they cannot offer medical advice, because only a doctor can do that, they can help you with most questions regarding HIV-related care and prevention.

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Here are some numbers you can call in the Cleveland area:

  • Ohio HIV/STD Prevention Hotline — 800-332-2437
  • AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland — 216-621-0766
  • MetroHealth Compass Services: For People Living with HIV/AIDS — 216-778-4051
  • Cleveland Department of Public Health — Office of HIV/AIDS Services — 216-664-2324
  • Ohio HIV Drug Assistance Program (OHDAP) — 800-777-4775
  • Ohio AIDS Coalition (OAC) Cleveland — 216-325-7720

Each of these hotlines works a bit differently, so you might have to call a couple to find the one you really like. Once you do that, write down the number or save it in your phone (or both). If you’re worried about privacy, give the hotline a fun contact name like “Ghostbusters” or “LeBron<3.” That is of course, unless you actually have King James or the Ghostbusters in your address book already, which is awesome!

Some hotlines generally work during business hours (9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays). The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a 24-hour hotline that runs all year — 800-232-4636; TTY: 888-232-6348.


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What to Do Before You Call a HIV Hotline

  • Write down all your questions in advance. It helps to keep you organized and ensure you don’t forget anything.
  • Have a pen and paper ready to write down any important information like phone numbers, email addresses, street addresses and anything else.
  • If you have internet access, try to get some answers online first. If you’re better informed, you can ask smarter questions. AIDS.gov and TheBody.com have fantastic, user-friendly websites chalk full of quality information and fun informative videos. You can also check out our local site and blog at positivepeers.org!
  • You are at your best when you’re calm. Make sure you’re in a quiet, comfortable space to talk with plenty of time to do so before your next big to-do.

What to Do During Your Call

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  • Stay patient. The person you talk to may not have the answers to all your questions. If they can’t answer a question, ask for a recommendation for somebody else to talk to.
  • Take plenty of notes, and feel free to ask the person to slow down while you write things down. Always read back phone numbers, names (including the spelling), street addresses and email addresses to confirm they are correct.
  • Ask for the name of the person you are talking to. That way if you call back and talk to somebody else, you will be able to say “well, Mary told me to call …” (Note some hotlines may not allow their volunteers to give out their names.
  • Thank them for their time. Saying thank you is one of the greatest things we can do for one another ☺

What to Do After Your Call

  • Go back through your notes, fill in any gaps and make sure you have a good written summary of what you’ve been told.
  • If you need to call other people, make a list and create a schedule of when you’ll make the calls.
  • Give yourself some credit for having the courage, wisdom and patience to call and get your questions answered! Great job, you’re awesome!

positive-peers-hiv/aids-hotline

People living with HIV say this over and over: Just knowing you are not alone is one of the greatest sources of comfort when you’re feeling anxious, afraid or confused.

An HIV/AIDS hotline can be that friendly voice you need, right when you need it the most.   


Positive Peers is made possible through a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration, HIV/AIDS Bureau Special Projects of National Significance (SPNS) Grant to The MetroHealth System. Click here for more information about the SPNS grant initiative.
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