Living With HIV? How to Take Care of Yourself
Meaning you have HIV it doesn’t have to stop you from living a healthy and fulfil life. With the right care and treatment, you can live as long as someone who doesn’t have HIV. Find out how you can look after yourself and stay healthy.
1Taking antiretroviral treatment for HIV
Once you have diagnosed with HIV you should start treatment as soon as possible to keep your immune system strong. Although antiretroviral treatment is not a cure for HIV, it keeps the virus under control. Just like any other medication, you will experience some effects in the first few months. Remember to take your medication regularly as prescribed without skipping doses.
Eating nutritious food is mandatory when you are HIV positive. Always eat a well-balanced diet without too much salt, sugar and processed fat. This helps the body to absorb treatment and fight off infections.
You may benefit from talking to your healthcare professional about your diet if you:
- Are underweight (perhaps because HIV was already making you unwell by the time you were diagnosed)
- Are overweight
- Have any particular dietary problems
- Are experiencing side effects that make it hard to eat well?
You can never go wrong with exercise. Being active is necessary to maintain your health because it builds muscle, keeping your bones strong, your heart healthy and burns fat. People living with HIV lose muscle mass and strength training/exercise can prevent this.
Being active is a part of maintaining your health for everyone – it builds muscle, keeps your bones strong, your heart healthy and burns fat. Some people who are living with HIV lose muscle mass and strength – exercising regularly helps prevent this. Exercise also reduces symptoms of depression and feelings of stress.
4Managing stress and getting support
Having the best mental and emotional health is just as important as taking care of your body. Finding you are HIV positive cab be a shock and may take some time to adjust. Talking to your family, friends or other people living with HIV can be of great help. Reading positive stories of people living with HIV will greatly influence your thoughts positively. In addition, joining a supporting group consisting of people living with HIV will help when things get difficult.
Once you have adjusted to your HIV status, you need to move on with your life. What are your goals? Do you want to travel? Do want a family? Want change your career? Want to study more? Don’t let HIV stop you, continue to achieve your dreams.
5Avoid excessive alcohol or drug use
Abusing drugs and drinking too much alcohol is not a good idea because it weaken the immune system. Mixing medicine and alcohol or drugs you experience unwanted side effects and the treatment will not be as effective as it should. If you’re concerned about your alcohol or drug use, talk to a healthcare professional for advice and support.
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