Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV/AIDS), an infection that affects and weakens the immune system still continues to spread all over the world.
It appears almost like a life sentence when diagnosed with it, however, it doesn’t mean the end of the world.
With the right treatment and care, you can expect to live as long as someone who doesn’t have HIV as a lot of healthy-looking people are living with the virus.
As World AIDS Day is celebrated today, December 1, here are tips on how to stay healthy with the HIV virus.
1. Start your antiretroviral treatment
As soon as you have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, you need to start your antiretroviral treatment in order to boost your immune system.
Although not a cure for HIV, it does keep the virus under control.
Once you start treatment, the key to staying well is to make sure that you take it regularly as prescribed – which usually means every day at the same time. Skipping doses, or taking it at different times each day, will stop it from protecting your immune system.
2. Practise safe sex
Understand how the virus is transmitted to reduce the risk of infecting others. Use condoms not only to avoid the spread of HIV but also to protect both you and your partner against other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and other types of infections.
If you have another STD, also known as sexually transmitted infections, or STIs, you may be more likely to transmit both HIV and your other STD to someone else. STDs can also worsen HIV and make the disease progress more rapidly. And HIV can make STDs more difficult to treat, so you’ll want to address an STD as soon as possible.
3. Reduce your risk of getting other illnesses
Since HIV makes your immune system less effective, you become more susceptible to every virus, bacteria, and germ you’re exposed to. Wash your hands frequently, and stay away from sick people to stay as healthy as possible. Also, stay up-to-date on all of your vaccinations to reduce your risk of preventable illnesses.
4. Eat a healthy diet
Your diet is not something you should joke about at this time. Eat a balanced diet and more vegetables and fruits.
Reduce your sugar, fat, and salt intake as much as possible.
5. Engage in activities or hobbies that will relieve your stress
Being active is a part of maintaining your health for everyone – it builds muscle, keeps your bones strong, your heart healthy and burns fat.
Physical and mental exercise can keep your mind and body strong. Regular physical exercise, such as walking, biking, running, swimming, or another activity you enjoy, keeps you physically fit and can keep both stress and depression in check. Mental exercise doing a daily crossword puzzle or playing brain-challenging games —can help maintain your cognitive health. Exercise your memory, concentration, and attention, all of which can be affected by HIV.
6.Quit smoking and alcohol
If you are living with HIV, there are specific risks associated with alcohol and recreational drug use that you should be aware of. Alcohol can damage the liver which the body uses to process anti-HIV drugs, so it is good to keep your alcohol consumption within the recommended limits. Heavy drinking and smoking can also weaken your immune system, making it harder for your body to recover from infections.
7. Join a support group
Your mental state is just as important as your health. Finding out you have HIV can be a shock, and it may take you some time to adjust. Talking to your friends and family, and other people living with HIV can really help when things get difficult.
There are many kinds of support groups that provide a place where you can talk about your feelings, help others, and get the latest information about HIV. Check with your health care provider for a listing of local support groups.