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How to Live Healthy With HIV

By Rose Kivi

It is possible to live a healthy, happy life while HIV positive. HIV antiviral drugs fight the HIV virus to slow its progression. According to the University of California, San Francisco, "Without treatment, it takes an average of 10 years for someone who gets HIV to develop AIDS." Some people develop AIDS much sooner than 10 years after infection with HIV and some people go much longer than 10 years without developing AIDS. Taking antiviral medications does not guarantee that you will not get AIDS, but the medications increase your chances of stopping AIDS from developing. Taking HIV antiviral medications and living a healthy lifestyle can help you feel well so that you can live a more normal life.

  1. Visit a doctor to discuss whether taking HIV antiretroviral drugs would be beneficial for you. Antiretrovirals help to stop the HIV virus from multiplying. If your doctor prescribes antiretroviral drugs, take the medications exactly as directed. Missing doses increases the chances of the HIV virus becoming resistant to the drugs.

  2. Get regular health checkups to catch any illnesses at the early stages and so your doctor can make any necessary adjustments to your antiretroviral medication treatment.

  3. Eat 10 percent more calories a day than is normally required for a person of your weight. Extra calorie intake is required to combat the extra calories that are burned due to the HIV infection. Eat a healthy, balanced diet to provide your body with the nutrients it needs to function at its best. A healthy balanced diet consists of lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. If you are having trouble eating enough calories, try drinking nutritional supplement drinks, which are high in calories and nutrients. Consult with a nutritionist if you are unsure of the proper foods to eat. Speak with your doctor about taking a daily multivitamin supplement to ensure that you are getting enough nutrients.

  4. Exercise regularly to increase appetite. HIV patients sometimes have little appetite. Exercising boosts the metabolism, builds muscle and stimulates the feeling of hunger. One hour of aerobic activity three times a week or 30 minutes of aerobic activity everyday is a good way to keep your body in shape. Choose activities that you enjoy to make working out fun. Activities like dancing, swimming, hiking and tennis are fun ways to exercise.

  5. Get plenty of sleep each night. During sleep your body regenerates and heals. The optimal amount of sleep is different for each person. If you are getting enough sleep, you should wake feeling well rested. If you are tired throughout the day, you may not be getting enough sleep. Sleep is especially important for people who have HIV because the immune system is working in overdrive to fight the virus.

  6. Reduce stress in your life. Stress is hard on the body and the mind. People with HIV may feel stressed dealing with the effects of their illness, medications or social stigmas. Confiding in a trusted friend or therapist can help you deal with HIV-related stress. Some stress-reduction techniques are: Taking time each day to participate in activities you enjoy, getting a massage, spending time with friends, listening to classical music and taking long, deep breaths. If you cannot seem to reduce stress, see a psychologist to learn calming techniques.

  7. Tip

    For the best treatment, find a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.


    Always ask your doctor before beginning an exercise program.

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