Categories: Aids

Life after HIV diagnosis

Life may not be the same once you learn that you’re HIV+. You may go through many difficult experiences in life – the feeling of being scared, sad or angry may occupy your mind. Just remember, this is ok and a completely natural part of coping with such a life-altering situation. You can still live a long, happy and fulfilling life, even after HIV with the right support and treatment. The advancement in technology has made it possible for HIV+ people to live as long as the average person. Due to a lot of misconceptions about HIV, the diagnosing and treatment modality plays a major factor in how one goes forward.

Treatment for HIV

HIV can gradually destroy the immune system and develop into a full-blown AIDS. As AIDS is the final stage of the infection, having HIV doesn’t mean you have AIDS. Sometimes, it may be in the initial stages and with proper treatment it can be stopped from progressing to AIDS.

What is anti-retroviral therapy (ART)?

The procedure for treating HIV/AIDS with medications is called anti-retroviral therapy (ART). This is a recommended treatment modality for everyone with HIV. Although there is no cure for HIV, these medicines help to manage the risk of the virus spreading to others and also reduces the risk of complications associated with HIV.

How do HIV/AIDS medicines work?

These medicines reduce the amount of viral load in the patient’s body by:

Giving the immune system a chance to recover. Although there may be some presence of HIV in the body, these medicines will help the system to fight infections and HIV related cancers . Reducing the risk of spreading HIV to others.

Medication for HIV:

There are numerous medications available for management of HIV. The doctor decides which medication works the best, based on the clinical assessment at the time of diagnosis.

Management of HIV:

It is very important to protect the immune system when you’re HIV+. If you keep your body as healthy as possible, then the immune system can be better equipped to fight the infections and other viruses.

Following are few tips to manage HIV:

  • Practice safe sex:

This is the most important thing to do. Always use condoms to protect yourself and your partner from sexually transmitted diseases and other types of infections. If HIV negative person wants to have sex with HIV+ person, pre-exposure prophylactic drugs are available which significantly reduces the risk of getting infected. In case of needle stick injuries, accidental pin-prick with HIV positive contaminated objects, pre-exposure prophylactic drugs are available which significantly reduces the risk of getting infected.

  • Get tested for STDs:

If you have STDs, then it’s more likely that both your HIV and STD may get transmitted to someone else. STDs can make the treatment of HIV even more difficult, so it is imperative that you have to get checked for STDs as they don’t present any symptoms, and you may not realize you have one without getting yourself checked.

  • Prevent infection and illness:

As your immune system weakens due to HIV, the chances of getting infected with viruses, germs and infections are very much possible. Always wash hands, stay away from sick people and be as healthy as possible. Keep a track of the vaccination programs to reduce the risk of other illnesses.

  • Follow doctors guidance:

HIV medications reduce the power of the virus to impact the immune system. It is crucial to continue the medicines as per the doctors’ orders. Make sure to not skip any day as the virus can become drug-resistant in no time. Maintain the same schedule of taking the medicines, each day at the same time.

These things contribute towards developing a feeling of depression. Avoiding them can help in developing a positive attitude needed for keeping a healthy mind throughout your life.

  • Manage stress and emotions:

One of the common drawbacks for people suffering from HIV is depression. The stress of HIV combined worsens the symptoms of depression. It is essential to keep depression and stress under control to make life with HIV easier. Seek help from a mental health professional if these things bother you.

  • Exercise the mind and body:

Physical and mental exercise can help the body and mind to relieve stress and depression. 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. Physical exercise significantly helps the immune system as well. 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.

The key to staying healthy with HIV are within your control. Live a healthy lifestyle. Follow your doctor’s guidance without fail with regular follow up, fuel your body with a healthy, nutritious, and a balanced diet, and allow it to recharge each night with enough quality sleep. Treat your body well to strengthen it, so that it can defend against illnesses that could threaten your health.

Dr. Karthik, Consultant – Internal Medicine, Narayana Multispeciality Hospital, HSR Layout, Bangalore

Narayana Health

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