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Conditions Related to HIV

Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on April 23, 2021

If you live with HIV, you might have other health conditions to manage as well. HIV damages your immune system, which makes you more likely to get sick from different kinds of infections and diseases. Some drugs that treat HIV can cause health problems, too.

Some of the conditions you may have include:

Infections

The weakened immune system that HIV causes can make you more likely than others to pick up infections. This is especially true in late-stage HIV that has progressed to AIDS. Some infections that are more common in people who have HIV are:

Hepatitis

Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are liver infections. Like HIV, these viruses spread from person to person through infected blood or other body fluids. Because they spread in the same way, many people with HIV also have at least one type of hepatitis. Without treatment, it could turn into liver disease or liver cancer.

Cancer

A weakened immune system raises your risk of cancer. Some of the most common cancers that affect people with HIV are:

You may also be at higher risk for cancers that affect other parts of your body, like your liver, lungs, or anus.

Diabetes

When you have diabetes, glucose from food can’t move into your cells. It builds up in your bloodstream instead. The inflammation that HIV causes throughout your body raises your chance of developing this condition. Also, some HIV medicines can cause weight gain, which is another risk factor for diabetes.

High Blood Pressure

When you have HIV, you’re more likely to have high blood pressure. Some HIV drugs may raise your blood pressure. Also, the long-term inflammation from HIV itself can make your arteries swell and stiffen. If you don’t treat it, high blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.

Heart Disease

The inflammation that HIV causes can age and damage your blood vessels. Some HIV drugs can also upset the balance of fats that naturally move through your blood. You may start to have too much of the “bad” kind and not enough of the “good” type. These problems put you at risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

HIV-Related Kidney Disease

HIV can damage the small filters in your kidneys that flush toxins and extra fluid from your blood. It can also infect the cells inside your kidneys, so they don’t work the way they should. African American and Hispanic people who have HIV are at highest risk for this type of kidney disease.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

HIV can damage your lungs or cause other infections that harm them. Lung damage can lead to COPD, a condition that makes it harder for you to breathe. Both bronchitis and emphysema are types of COPD.

Depression

HIV can affect both your brain and nervous system. The stress of living with this condition can also impact your mental health and lead to depression. But depression is highly treatable. If you feel depressed, talk to your doctor.

Anxiety

Anyone with HIV can have anxiety, but you’re at a higher risk if:

  • It runs in your family
  • You don’t have a strong support system
  • You don’t have healthy ways to cope with stress

You may notice that your anxiety gets worse at times when your HIV seems to be the focus of your life, like when you have an infection or are waiting on lab results. Like depression, anxiety can get better with treatment, so don’t keep it to yourself.

What You Can Do

It can be a challenge to keep on top of the doctor visits, medicines, tests, and procedures you may need, but do the best you can. Regular care is the best way to manage your health and avoid complications of HIV. Your HIV medications help keep your immune system strong enough to fight infections and diseases.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

CDC: “Tuberculosis: The Connection Between TB and HIV.”

HIV.gov: “Other health issues of special concern for people living with HIV,” “HIV and Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C Coinfection.”

NAM Aidsmap: “Type 2 diabetes and HIV,” “Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) increases the risk of heart attack in people with HIV.”

American Heart Association: “What’s the connection between high blood pressure and HIV?”

New York State Department of Health: “HIV and Cancer: What’s the Link?”

CATIE: “HIV and Cardiovascular Disease.”

National Institute of Mental Health: “HIV/AIDS and mental health.”

National Kidney Foundation: “HIV and Chronic Kidney Disease; What You Need to Know.”

Mayo Clinic: “HIV/AIDS.”

American Psychiatric Association: “HIV Mental Health Treatment Issues: HIV and Anxiety.”

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