Safe Food and Water for HIV Patients
Can I eat raw fruits and vegetables?
Yes. Raw fruits and vegetables are safe to
eat if you wash them carefully first. Wash, then peel fruit that you will eat
raw. Eating raw alfalfa sprouts and tomatoes can cause illness, but washing
them well can reduce your risk of illness.
How can I make my water safe?
- Don't drink water straight from lakes, rivers, streams, or
- Because you cannot be sure if your tap water is safe, you
may wish to avoid tap water, including water or ice from a refrigerator
ice-maker, which is made with tap water. Always check with the local health
department and water utility to see if they have issued any special notices for
people with HIV about tap water.
- You may also wish to boil or filter your water, or to drink
bottled water. Processed carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles should
be safe, but drinks made at a fountain might not be because they are made with
tap water. If you choose to boil or filter your water or to drink only bottled
water, do this all the time, not just at home.
- Boiling is the best way to kill germs in your water. Heat
your water at a rolling boil for 1 minute. After the boiled water cools, put it
in a clean bottle or pitcher with a lid and store it in the refrigerator. Use
the water for drinking, cooking, or making ice. Water bottles and ice trays
should be cleaned with soap and water before use. Don't touch the inside of
them after cleaning. If you can, clean your water bottles and ice trays
What should I do when shopping for food?
- Read food labels carefully. Be sure that all dairy products
that you purchase have been pasteurized. Do not buy any food that contains raw
or undercooked meat or eggs if it is meant to be eaten raw. Be sure that the
"sell by" date has not passed.
- Put packaged meat, poultry, or fish in separate plastic bags
to prevent their juices from dripping onto other groceries or each
- Check the package that the food comes in to make sure that
it isn't damaged.
- Do not buy food that has been displayed in unsafe or unclean
conditions. Examples include meat that is allowed to sit without refrigeration
or cooked shrimp that is displayed with raw shrimp.
- After shopping, put all cold and frozen foods into your
refrigerator or freezer as soon as you can. Do not leave food sitting in the
car. Keeping cold or frozen food out of refrigeration for even a couple of
hours can give germs a chance to grow.
Is it safe for me to eat in restaurants?
Yes. Like grocery stores, restaurants follow
guidelines for cleanliness and good hygiene set by the health department.
However, you should follow these general rules in restaurants:
- Order all food well done. If meat is served pink or bloody,
send it back to the kitchen for more cooking. Fish should be flaky, not
rubbery, when you cut it.
- Order fried eggs cooked on both sides. Avoid eggs that are
"sunny-side up." Scrambled eggs should be cooked until they are not
runny. Do not order foods that may contain raw eggs, such as Caesar salad or
hollandaise sauce. If you aren't sure about the ingredients in a dish, ask your
waiter before you order.
- Do not order any raw or lightly steamed fish or shellfish,
such as oysters, clams, mussels, sushi, or sashimi. All fish should be cooked