If you have been testing positive for HIV recently, it’s common to have questions about how the diagnosis will affect your daily life. The good news is that, over the last few decades, treatment with modern HIV drugs has improved considerably. Managing the condition can have minimal impact on your daily routine.
Bring this handy discussion guide along with your doctor next time you visit. Asking these questions will help you learn the best possible ways to stay healthy while living with HIV.
What are my options for the treatment?
Antiretroviral therapy can significantly slow HIV progression. It can also strengthen the immune system, and greatly reduce the risk of HIV transmission to others. Antiretroviral therapy usually involves taking multiple medicines daily. Often this treatment is called an HIV regimen.
The first step on your treatment path is to decide upon your regimen. HIV medicines are divided into seven classes of drugs, based on how they fight against HIV. Ask your doctor which drugs might work best for your regimen.
What are the risks to health from HIV treatment?
Before starting treatment it is a good idea to discuss with your doctor the potential health risks of antiretroviral therapy. Some HIV medicines may interact with others and may cause a range of side effects. Most of these side effects, like headaches and dizziness, tend to be mild. Sometimes, though, they can be more serious and even life-threatening.
There is also a risk that HIV drugs may interact with other vitamins and medications. If you have recently started taking any new drugs or supplements, be sure to tell your doctor.
How long do I need to take the medication for HIV?
It is necessary to be vigilant in taking medication every day and to function correctly in the way prescribed for the treatment regimen. Inquiring your doctor about ways to adhere to your treatment plan is beneficial. Some popular tips include a dedicated calendar or daily reminder set on your phone.
Missing, or taking only rarely, doses of medication raises the risk of drug resistance. This will decrease the medication’s efficacy and could cause the condition to worsen.
How often should I schedule medical appointments?
It is recommended that people living with HIV see their health care provider for laboratory testing every three to six months, and for general consultation on how the treatment is going. But scheduling visits more often isn’t unusual, particularly within the first two years of treatment.
Speak to your doctor about what kind of routine they would prescribe. And collaborate with them to come up with a roadmap for the next year. If you have been on a healthy normal HIV regimen — and have had a reliably suppressed viral load of antiretroviral therapy for two years — the frequency of your laboratory tests will usually decline to twice a year.
Do I need to change my diet and exercise routine?
Once you start taking medication, maintaining a healthy diet and an active lifestyle can help to make your treatment a success. There is no special diet for HIV-patients. Since the immune system works hard to prevent infections, however, some people living with HIV feel they need to consume more calories. On the other hand, a doctor can recommend adjusting the eating habits for those who are overweight to help with weight loss.
A well-balanced diet usually contains limited amounts of protein and fats and plenty of:
- starchy carbohydrates
If you are unsure of the best way to prepare nutritious meals, your doctor will be able to provide advice or refer you to a dietitian.
Some people with HIV may experience muscle loss but regular exercise may retain or strengthen muscles. The three principal exercise types are:
- resistance or strength training
- flexibility training
Work with your doctor to establish a daily routine of exercise specific to the needs of your body. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC) recommends that adults receive at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity aerobics per week, which may include activities such as walking, dancing, and gardening. The CDC also recommends taking part in resistance training on non-consecutive days, at least twice a week. Before doing any new workouts make sure to consult with your doctor to stop overdoing it.
How will my relationships change?
It may be challenging and difficult to talk about HIV with your social circle, but that doesn’t mean that your relationship with the people you love will change in the long run. Your doctor will give you advice about how best to talk with others about your HIV status. It is crucial that people diagnosed with HIV should notify about the diagnosis of any current or previous sexual partners. Conversing with trusted family and friends will help you develop your personal support system.
Your doctor can also have a referral to support such services as counseling for mental health. This can be of support to people who want to talk to someone who is impartial about how they feel about living with HIV.
People living with HIV should maintain safe sexual relations with HIV-negative partners. Modern HIV therapies are so successful that the possibility of virus transmission can be negligible. An HIV-negative partner should consider taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication to further reduce their HIV risk. Talk with your doctor about the best ways to protect both you and your partner. buy prep online from safe healths pharmacy it is a trusted online pharmacy.
Remember every question is a good one when it comes to your health. Speak to your doctor about any questions that you have about how to manage your everyday routine and treatment plan.