What to Know About Life With HIV

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In terms of how a person has to change their life when they are diagnosed with HIV, I think the first thing to realize is it's a chronic disease. And so it's a disease that requires that individual to engage in medical care and take their medications for a lifetime.

One of the most important things with diet is portion control. I focus on having three square meals oftentimes, where you have protein, where you have fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, and some degree of carbohydrates, and then at the same time, also incorporating daily exercise. HIV patients tend to have much higher rates of smoking than the general population, and therefore suffer a lot of the consequences of smoking such as heart disease and cancer at higher rates than the general population as well.

The conversation around safe sex, we encourage barrier contraceptives, so things like condoms, to prevent both transmission of HIV and transmission of other sexually transmitted infections, such as syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. Before individuals with HIV get on their medicine, they certainly are at increased risk for infections. And so I emphasize hand hygiene. I encourage them to wash their hands before eating. Individuals can carry hand sanitizer around with them, which makes for a very easy method of cleaning hands. So individuals infected with HIV have essentially the same life expectancy as those without HIV.