How to Manage Health with HIV

Hands holding, showing a red ribbon as HIV-AIDS awareness

• HIV affects an estimated 1.2 million people in the United States

• Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting adequate rest can all help manage health with HIV.

• It is important to adhere to an antiretroviral therapy (ART) routine and be aware of the potential side effects of medications.

• Support groups and forums are available to connect with others living with HIV.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that weakens a person’s immune system over time. An estimated 1.2 million individuals in the United States live with HIV, of which roughly 13% remain unaware and require testing services. Living with HIV can be a difficult journey, but it doesn’t have to be the end of your health. To stay healthy with HIV, some steps can be taken to effectively manage health and prevent the virus’s progression. With proper management, you can maintain a high quality of life and reduce the risks associated with HIV.

Maintaining Healthy Habits

A healthy habit is not just important for those living with HIV. It is essential. This is because having a healthy lifestyle can help improve the immune system and reduce the risk of contracting other illnesses. Here are healthy habits that can help manage health with HIV:

Eating a Balanced Diet

Nutrition plays an important role in managing health with HIV. Eating nutritious, balanced meals can help boost energy levels and support the immune system. This means eating various foods, including plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, healthy fats, and low-fat dairy products. Additionally, since HIV damages the immune system, food safety should also be considered. Avoid eating or drinking raw eggs, undercooked poultry, meat and seafood, and unpasteurized milk and fruit juices to reduce your risk of foodborne illnesses.

Exercising Regularly

Exercise can help keep the immune system strong and improve overall health. It’s important to find an exercise routine that works for you, whether it’s a low-impact exercise like yoga or walking or a more intense workout such as running or swimming.

By participating in physical activity regularly, you can decrease your chances of developing several illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and different types of cancer. These conditions affect people living with HIV and can be managed effectively by exercising.

Getting Adequate Rest

Getting enough sleep is just as important as healthy eating and exercise. Not getting enough rest can increase the risk of developing other illnesses. Establish a bedtime routine that works for you, such as turning off electronic devices at least an hour before bed and limiting caffeine intake. Aim for seven to eight hours of restful sleep each night. Remember that lack of rest or sleep can cause mood disturbances, lower adherence to HIV treatment and increase the risk of depression.

A woman wearing red, resting on a sofa at home

Medication Management

Another key component of managing your health with HIV is medication management. Medications help control the virus and prevent it from progressing, so taking them as prescribed is important. Here are ways to manage medications:

Following Medication Routine

Adhering to an antiretroviral therapy (ART) routine is important for managing health with HIV. It helps keep virus levels low, boosts the immune system, reduces the risk of disease progression and prevents transmission. Be sure to take medications simultaneously every day to ensure that you take them correctly.

Managing Side Effects

It’s important to be aware of any side effects you may experience while taking medications and inform your doctor if they persist. Some common side effects include fatigue, headache, nausea and skin rash. Your doctor can provide advice on how to manage these side effects and may be able to prescribe different medications.

Get Support and Professional Help

Living with HIV can be challenging, so it’s important to reach out for support when needed. Many resources are available to people living with HIV. Additionally, it’s important to seek professional help to effectively manage health with HIV. Professionals can provide personal advice and support, as well as educational resources. They can also help you find support groups where you can connect with people who understand what you’re going through. Here are your options:

Emotional Support Group

It can be helpful to connect with others living with the same condition, either in person or online, through support groups or forums such as TheBodyPro’s Positively Aware forums or AIDSwikia’s Forum on Living Well With HIV/AIDS. These forums provide a safe space where you can talk openly about your experiences living with HIV and get advice from those who know what it’s like first-hand.

A woman hugging a friend at a park as part of support

Recruitment Assistance

Medical professionals can sometimes provide recruitment assistance for HIV clinical trials. Participating in an HIV research panel recruitment can provide access to the latest medications and treatments for those living with HIV and compensation for participating in research studies.

Additionally, participating in this kind of research can help make a difference in the HIV treatment process and provide an opportunity to learn more about HIV and access the latest treatments.

Making healthcare decisions is not easy, but with the right support and resources, managing health with HIV is possible. Proper management and lifestyle changes can improve your quality of life and help you live well with HIV. Reach out for help if needed, and don’t let HIV define who you are.

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