HIV is one of the most serious sexually transmitted infections of all. It can be harrowing for any individual to hear the news that they’re HIV positive, especially given the fact that there is currently no known cure for this infection. However, more than 1.2 million people live in the United States with HIV today, and many of them are able to enjoy relatively normal lives.
Even though HIV can eventually lead to AIDS, the most serious stage of infection, it can be treated, and there are ways in which you can adjust and adapt your lifestyle to keep yourself safe and healthy each day. This guide will cover some of the more useful tips that everyone with an HIV diagnosis needs to know.
Safe Sex is Key
Anyone living with HIV needs to understand the importance of safe sex. It’s often the case that unsafe sex caused HIV in the first place, but there are many instances where even those who used contraception and followed the guidelines still found themselves infected with the virus. In either case, for your future sexual encounters, being safe is very important.
It’s vital not just for you, but for your partners too. HIV can be very contagious, so a person who is HIV positive can easily pass the virus onto others if they fail to take proper precautions. Similarly, you could also get infected with other STDs if you aren’t careful.
Begin Antiretroviral Treatment
As soon as you get tested positive for HIV, you’ll need to start a course of antiretroviral treatment or ART. This is the primary method with which HIV is treated, and while it can’t be classed as a cure, it still has proven to be highly effective at controlling the virus and limiting the damage it can do inside the body.
You can speak with your own healthcare provider to learn more about this form of treatment, and it is possible that you’ll experience some side effects in the early weeks and months. These side effects should subside eventually, as long as you continue taking the treatment in recommended doses at the right times, but be sure to keep your doctor informed if you experience any changes or problems.
Get Yourself Tested for Additional STDs
As well as getting yourself tested for HIV, you should also be sure to get yourself tested for other STDs too. There are many different types of STD out there, from syphilis and gonorrhea to herpes and chlamydia. Each one can be dangerous in its own ways, and the risks are much worse for people who are HIV positive.
Since HIV is able to weaken your immune system, you can be more at risk of suffering the symptoms of these other infections, such as pain, discomfort, infertility, blindness, and so on. Make sure to get yourself tested and find treatment for any other conditions you have, as well as informing your sexual partners.
Eat a Healthy Diet
One of the key things that many people learn soon after receiving a positive diagnosis of HIV is that the virus can be managed and controlled. All it takes is some effort on your part and a few key lifestyle changes. One of the first things you can do is adjust your diet, cutting out junk and processed foods and starting to shift towards healthy alternatives.
Eating an unhealthy diet can reduce the effectiveness of your treatment, cause additional health problems, and weaken your immune system even further, making you more susceptible to other infections. With a healthy diet, however, you’ll be stronger, fitter, more responsive to treatment, and more resistant to other infections too.
Don’t Overlook Your Mental Health
As well as adopting a healthy diet, there are plenty of other lifestyle changes you can make. You can start exercising more often, for example, as well as reducing your reliance on bad habits and unhealthy substances such as cigarettes or alcohol. However, one of the most important aspects of all to focus on is your mental health.
It’s not uncommon for those with HIV to feel scared, lonely, depressed, and anxious. However, there are plenty of people out there who can help you feel better. Loved ones such as friends and family can be great sources of support, and you can also speak with psychologists and psychiatrists for help when you need it.
Getting an HIV diagnosis can seem like the end of the world, but it’s so important for all patients to understand that their lives aren’t over. There’s a lot you can do to still have a wonderful life and feel fulfilled each and every day.