Is it truly possible to live a healthy life with HIV/AIDS?
Living with HIV/AIDS presents a unique set of challenges, some of which are not easily foreseen. Despite these, HIV-positive people live full and fulfilling lives with the help of medication, healthy lifestyle decisions and a strong support base.
Here are some of the most important things that people with HIV/AIDS need to do to maximize their health:
Seek & Maintain Treatment
Quality of life for HIV-positive people has dramatically increased since the development of multi-drug treatment, called HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy). This group of medications targets HIV at different points in the infection cycle, slowing the virus’s impact on the immune system and delaying the onset of symptoms. Although these drugs have complicated regimens and many people experience a range of side effects both mild and severe, it is important to follow the treatment plan established with a physician and to not alter the course of treatment without a physician’s knowledge. It is also key to follow up with doctor visits, physicals and viral-load testing, and keep one’s physician apprised of any serious side effects of medications.
Make Healthy Lifestyle Changes As Needed
Three lifestyle choices are important for all HIV-positive people: maintaining a healthy diet, avoiding or quitting smoking and getting exercise. Generally, this is because an overall fit body will be able to fight off infections better and also is better equipped to cope with the virus itself. Maintaining a proper nutrient balance and building muscle mass through exercise can help stave off wasting, a condition of severe weight loss that can begin even before HIV progresses to AIDS. According to the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), exercise can also help relieve stress, improve immune function, regulate sleep and improve appetite.