A Nutrition Guide for People with HIV/AIDS

If you have had HIV in your body for some time now, you might know how to handle the hard situations. It would be quite paradoxical now to state the fact that not many people are well aware of what to do in order to tackle such challenges. People with HIV have to go through various stages as the virus keeps acting on their body. While some of them are ostracized from the community, many others remain to survive in their normal environment by having to face a lot of persecution. The mental health of these people is, therefore, important to be kept sound and controlled since mood swings and depression are likely to occur frequently. When the medications to be taken for the physical and mental health are essential, people tend to overlook the role of a good diet in staying healthy.

Nutrition and HIV

These two factors are linked to each other, with nutrition influencing the level of growth of the virus in a body. Having good nutrition will have several benefits such as proper management of HIV complications and symptoms, strengthening of the immune system to fight the disease, and improvement of overall quality of life. Sticking to a diet that has vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fruits will help in staying healthy even when you are HIV positive. You must also make sure to add low-fat, lean proteins to your diet, limit sweets and soft drinks, and include fats, proteins, and carbohydrates in all your meals. Since calories are the energy provided by food to your body, you need to consume enough calories. Check with a dietician to find out how much calories you need to consume in order to maintain your weight.

Diet

Essential Nutrients

Proteins are important in building muscles and a strong immune system, making it an essential component in the diet of people with HIV. HIV positive men have to take about 100-150 grams per day, and women with HIV have to take at least 80 grams of protein every day. Carbohydrates are the nutrients that supply you with energy; so, you need to take a certain amount of food containing carbohydrates as well. It would be best to eat six servings of vegetables and fruits every day and avoid the consumption of simple sugars, cookies, cakes, and ice cream. You need to have fats in your body to receive extra energy. Around 30% of your daily calories should come from fat, and your diet must include items such as fish, avocado, seeds, nuts, olive oils, flaxseed, soybean, butter, fatty meat, poultry with skin, and whole-milk dairy foods.

Food

Methods to Control Certain Conditions

  • When you need to deal with frequent nausea and vomiting, try taking low-fat food such as plain broth, canned fruit, or plain pasta. Also, make sure that you eat small meals every two hours.
  • Keep yourself hydrated and limit the intake of milk and sugar to control the effects of diarrhea.
  • Following a particular regimen of exercises, eating with your family and friends, and having frequent meals will help in stimulating your appetite.
  • Add more carbohydrates, fats, and protein into your diet to fight excessive weight loss.
  • Avoid taking raw vegetables and acidic foods; instead go for softer foods like bananas, pears, mashed potatoes, and yoghurt when you are facing problems with swallowing food.

The Isolation of Having HIV

Having infected by HIV cannot be blamed upon the patient since it could enter the human body in various ways. There have been several cases in the past where AIDS patients have intentionally tried to spread the virus to others. As a carrier of the virus, many people take advantage of spreading it to the community in all possible ways. That doesn’t mean every affected person would strive to do something so heinous. People with HIV have always been ostracized for their unhealthy living standards; even kids below the age of 15 get affected by the disease by not indulging in any form of shady activities. Also, as a third person in the scenario, you shouldn’t be avoiding the ones who have been affected since the disease wouldn’t spread through a hug or sharing a glass.

The transmission would take place only through body fluids such as breast milk and semen; so, having unprotected sex can lead to any of the two partners being affected by the virus. Getting a tattoo with unsterilized equipment and sharing needles are other ways of transmission where the virus enters the body directly into the bloodstream. How often could that happen with an AIDS patient? Knowing one such patient and avoiding him/her for fear of spreading would be the most childish thing to do with medical science having been developed a lot. Let us have a look at the isolation that all the infected people need to go through at some point of time in their life.

Isolation

Isolation of HIV

Many of the patients often tag themselves as unworthy of care and affection when they are diagnosed with the disease. Adding to this desperate situation will be the barbaric acts of the community towards the people living with HIV. But they are not always to be blamed for the virus that attacks the cells in their bodies. Stigma is, therefore, in many cases, self-generated by the patients to keep themselves away from the happening world. Testing of these people has become a challenge for the government authorities now with the people not being in a protected state. Many of them become homeless once they are diagnosed, and start living on the streets or certain groups of people with the same condition.

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Imagine spending the rest of your life with people of the same mental and physical conditions; nothing would be interesting and lively about that environment. Mental support is what these souls need the most when they are affected by the virus since the mind gets hurt more than the body with all the stigmatizing gazes. Having a negative self-image would lead to depression, shame, and guilt, which would start to grow within those fickle minds. As these negative thoughts keep thriving, it will start affecting the physical conditions as well. Only a sound mind can pave the path to a better life, and that will need support from the people surrounding the ones who have been infected by HIV. Considering them as an alien in schools, colleges, social gatherings, and community, will further weaken their souls and prompt them to isolate their bodies and minds from the world around them.

Living with HIV and AIDS

Being affected by HIV is considered to be one of the most unfortunate happenings in a person’s life. But what others forget is the fact that anyone at any point of time can encounter such a situation which would turn out to be an ordeal. Stigmatizing such a health condition is a heinous act that is unwarranted for. Like any other disease, AIDS, too, has its way of inflicting the human body; this one hits to bring about changes that could reduce life expectancy significantly. To be among the unaffected group of people and merely watching the predicaments of another person isn’t the same as going through such a phase of life. Several myths surround the disease of AIDS, and it affects the ones who are affected. The virus that attacks a human body destroys the CD4 immune cells, which are the major combating powers against all kinds of diseases.

Most people think of AIDS as a disease that spreads through sharing a glass, hugging, or using the same towel. However, that doesn’t happen, and it would spread from blood transfusion rarely. Sharing needles, getting tattoos using unsterilized equipment, and having unprotected sex are the major forms of the spread of the disease. Once affected by HIV, life starts getting all painful and miserable, but there is always a ray of hope that remains to hold onto. Living with AIDS is, therefore, a challenge that needs time to accept and fight. Let us have a look at how the patients live with this disease.

Living With AIDS

Antiretroviral Treatment

No HIV patient is alien; they too are humans and have all the right to live life their way. If you have been infected, panic comes naturally but should be fought in the initial stage. By getting rid of all such stresses, you are bracing yourself for the forthcoming agonies. None of the stages of AIDS is indeed easy to pass, but with fortitude and high morale from your family, nothing is unconquerable. Although antiretroviral treatment may not be a cure for HIV, it surely can help in keeping the virus in your body under control.

Antiretroviral treatment could have certain side effects in the first few months, which may fade away in the process. If it persists rather than pass, make sure to switch to a different drug if this form of treatment isn’t working out for you. Also, take the medicines regularly at the prescribed times, and make sure not to skip doses since it could affect your immune system badly.

Healthy Diets

All people affected by HIV should try and eat a balanced diet that has lesser quantities of salt, sugar, and processed fat. Frequent infections can be fought effectively by taking these foods that will help in absorbing the treatment easily. It is always best to talk to your healthcare professional about your diet when your body experiences the side effects of the medicine or other dietary problems. Consult the dietician also if you are underweight or overweight since these factors could directly influence your body when being affected by HIV.

Effects of HIV on a Human Body

HIV is a common term now that most people are aware of what disease it brings with it. But not many of the unaffected lot know what the symptoms and effects of HIV are. The virus could affect a human body through various stages, and the last stage is what we usually refer to as AIDS. The human immunodeficiency virus destroys the CD4 immune cells in a body, and these cells are critical to staying healthy and protected from any form of diseases. HIV could gradually weaken your body by affecting your immune system and natural defenses, which would be indicated by the various symptoms that occur over time. Many such processes take place within your body by the virus multiplying its presence and attacking the immune system severely. Let us find out how each system of the human body gets interrupted by the entry of HIV.

Attack on the Immune System

The rate at which the virus progresses will depend on your age, the stage at which you are diagnosed, and your overall health. HIV targets those very cells that have been provided in the body to fight such viruses. The replicating cycle of HIV could keep on continuing if proper treatment is provided, leading to serious infections and illnesses. Many of the early symptoms are mild that most people dismiss it; at later stages, the flu-like sickness starts affecting the body. The first stage of HIV, acute infection stage, brings about these symptoms that are relatively less fatal. Fever, chills, sore throat, rash, headache, diarrhea, muscle aches, joint pain, and night sweats are some of the symptoms of the first stage. The second stage is known as clinical latent infection state, and with it comes weight loss, cough, fever, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes.

Attack on the Cardiovascular and Respiratory Systems

The risks of pneumonia, colds, and influenza increase with the progressing infection by HIV. Advanced treatment cannot help you with this if you aren’t provided with preventive treatment, leading to greater complications like extreme pneumonia, tuberculosis, or pneumocystis carinii pneumonia. Lung cancer risk also increases with HIV, and this could be due to the weakened immune system and numerous respiratory issues related to it. People with HIV are more likely to be affected by lung cancer than people without it.

Attack on the Digestive System

Weight loss is one of the most significant symptoms of your digestive system being affected. When such problems hit your digestive tract, your appetite could be decreased, thereby making it difficult for you to eat an adequate amount of food. The difficulty in eating can also be caused by the inflammation of the esophagus and the formation of a white film on the tongue; this condition is called oral thrush. Other infections such as the salmonella and cryptosporidiosis could badly affect the digestive system through contaminated food and water, and cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Anyone could get it, but the risk doubles when you have HIV in your body. Nephropathy is also a health issue associated with HIV, and it makes the removal of waste products from the bloodstream harder when the kidneys become inflamed.

Early Signs and Stages of HIV

Not a single day passes by for people with HIV without the thoughts of being infected by the virus disturbing their composed minds. It is undeniable that all stages of AIDS would be so agonizing as to create a mindset within the patients to end their life. This happens very often among the people affected by the disease. Living with the virus and evading the chances of being infected severely is a challenge for everyone with HIV faces. Early detection of the virus will help the infected people in being more cautious with their actions and medicinal intake.

Transmission could take place through body fluids, which usually gets to the bad stage with unprotected sex, sharing the same glasses, and getting a tattoo with unsterilized equipment. Blood transmission is rare in the case of HIV, but it also has happened in the past. Prompt treatment can be ensured when the disease is detected at an earlier stage, and it can help in controlling the virus and preventing its progress into the third stage, which is most commonly known as AIDS. The virus would become undetectable when using antiretroviral drugs as early treatment, thereby reducing the chances of transmission.

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Early Symptoms of HIV

If you know what the symptoms of flu are, you could easily understand these early symptoms of HIV as well since both are quite similar. These early symptoms may include headache, thrush, sore throat, fever, fatigue, rash, swollen lymph nodes, ulcers in the mouth, diarrhea, night sweats, and joint and muscle pain. According to health experts, early symptoms could arise in two weeks of exposure or even go up to two months after transmission. Common illnesses and health conditions would also include these symptoms, thereby making many people ignore them. Also, in some people, these early symptoms wouldn’t arrive after they have contracted HIV.

Testing options are the only way to make sure if you are positive or negative; so, consider consulting a healthcare provider regarding the issue. The lack of symptoms could go on for as long as ten years but would be affecting your immunity gradually. HIV can be managed if treated properly; if left untreated, stage 3 can set in. So, it is important that you go for the test as soon as you feel like something is troubling you.

 

Stages of HIV

Symptoms of HIV can vary according to the phase, and the first stage is called primary or acute HIV infection or acute retroviral syndrome. Most of the signs at this stage would be similar to that of the symptoms of flu or even a respiratory or gastrointestinal infection. In the next stage, the virus would become less active even when it remains in the body. This is called the latency stage, and it could continue for 10 years with the slow progress of infection. The third and final stage is what we call AIDS, and the immune system will get severely damaged by then. Symptoms such as fever, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting start becoming more apparent as this stage begins.

A Positive Attitude Towards the Disease of AIDS

When affected by HIV, people start experiencing deteriorating physical health as the CD4 immune cells get attacked. The cells that act as a shield against the deadly viruses and other contaminants that enter your body are what keeps your body from falling ill regularly. You can imagine how severely your body would be affected by the virus if the mind generates thoughts that turn out to be a setback in your fight against the disease. Knowing more about AIDS will provide you with information regarding the symptoms and areas that get affected. Mental stability wouldn’t be affected at large but would surely affect certain parts of the brain to bring ideas and conditions that increase your agony. If you are a friend or family member of the patient, your approach towards the person will also have an impact on his/her mind.

 

All these experiences are sure to leave a mark on their minds only to be further affected by the recurring negative thoughts. Even the smoldering stimulants in a person’s brain could be brought to fierce extents by the indifference in the behavior of dear ones. It is the duty of the patient and everyone who surround the person to carry a positive attitude so that battle is between the strong army and the virus that comes as a single weak link. Let us have a look at the common mental issues that AIDS patients suffer from and how a positive attitude can combat these emotional fluctuations.

 

Various Types of Mental Agonies

People with the disease go through a wide range of emotions and mental conditions that are inexplicably vague to healthy humans. The first mental struggle that most AIDS patients go through is that of denial when they come to know about the disease. Dealing with the positive test result is often hard for most of the patients, leading them to deny the information. The natural first reaction will set in a shock wave in the body to hit several nerves in the body. It could result in severe mental issues if they aren’t able to control the emotional rush. Anger is yet another emotion that the patients come across most often, followed by sadness and depression. The patients could experience an intermittent rush of emotions through their body as new and astounding details of their disease are disclosed. Stress, anxiety, fear, and other neurocognitive disorders are the other effects of HIV on the human mind, and coping with this temperament to live a poised life wouldn’t be the easiest task for an AIDS patient.

Disease

Positive Attitude and Coping with the Mental Stresses

By carrying a positive attitude, people are more likely to find solace in various stages of treatment through different people. The bravery within their minds to fight this condition along with the support of family and friends will let them have an open perspective towards the plight they are about to face. It is always good to share your feelings with your dear ones or your healthcare providers and therapists. Getting enough sleep will lift your mood, eating small and healthy meals and meditation will help in setting up a less vulnerable mind. Wearing a positive attitude on your cuff and collar when you are a patient or a supporter will help in filling the surrounding space with positivity to fight the disease together.

What You Need to Know About the New Coronavirus and HIV

As the world is undergoing an unprecedented period of a pandemic, millions of people have been infected by the virus and others serving a period of lockdown at home. Nomenclature of the virus has the number 19 indicating the year it came into existence, with the new decade being filled with despondency. With the virus continuing to wreak havoc all across the globe, people with other diseases already having affected their health will find it hardest to survive through these times. Desperate moments have been following a domino effect the past few months, taking the lives of millions.

HIV patients are struggling are to evade all the possible situations from which they can get affected by the new virus. As HIV eats up the immune cells in a human body, Coronavirus could easily sprawl over their insides. Researchers have been following up on every lead to learning more about the virus, its spread, and mortality rate. Older people with weaker bodies succumb to the virus’ effect faster than others. Living with HIV is quite a challenge; being extra cautious about the ubiquitous pandemic is an additional concern for both the patients and the healthcare providers. Lower CD4 counts could pose a bigger risk to the lives of patients. But a few precautions can keep them protected from the virus to a great extent.

coronavirus

Basic of the Pandemic

By the end of May, the active cases in the US have risen to more than 1.5 million, and the death toll stands at about 1,30,000. The mortality rate of Coronavirus is said to be substantially higher in the US and China than the typical seasonal flu. Mild symptoms in the majority of the infected people is the biggest challenge faced by the health department in combating the pandemic. Not everyone who contracts the virus is under risk; people with a history of other diseases are the ones who are likely to be affected severely. Risk is greater in people above 80 years of age and the ones with issues such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer.

People with HIV

When people have compromised immunity, the chances of developing a COVID-19 illness are higher. The low CD4 T-cell count indicates advanced suppression of immunity; people with such conditions could contract the disease faster. More than half of the HIV population are over 50 years of age as well, thereby increasing the risk of illnesses developing within their bodies. They are also likely to have developed cardiovascular disease or neutropenia due to the constant intake of medications. The same precautions apply to HIV patients as well, only with a tighter approach.

 

  • Avoid contact with other people during the pandemic.
  • Self-isolation at homes or medical facilities of the people with HIV can help them stay away from the virus.
  • Wash hands with soap and water.
  • Sanitizer with alcohol content has to be used to clean your hands every hour.
  • Wear a mask when you are more likely to contract the virus.

Forms of Support Available for People with HIV or AIDS

People with AIDS are often looked upon with condemnation by others that stigma gets attached to them, which never gets untagged until the last breath. The disease is, therefore, considered to be a highly unfortunate one in the lifetime of a person. But all communities need to realize the fact that no AIDS patient can spread the disease with a mere hug or any expression of love and affection. These people who get ostracized from the common gatherings and often from their own families lurk in the streets to live a destitute life. As a responsible citizen, one has to think about such souls who remain outcasts for the rest of their lives.

What many people might be unaware of is that these patients are mentally vulnerable than any healthy human being is. A slight blow on their mental state could affect their overall composure or the factors that hold them together. Supporting these patients in such desperate times is what we as fellow-beings need to do. Providing these people with these services and making sure that no patient is left stranded on the streets to be killed in the process would be the first stages of helping them out. Let is find out the various forms of support that can be provided to the people with HIV.

 

Payment for Care

Health insurance is something that almost everyone holds to ensure better treatment for any illness. The US has always been efficient in providing its citizens with the best service in the health department. Several programs have been introduced in the past to help people with AIDS who have no homes to stay. Even the affected ones who have no insurance can claim the services of these programs and get the necessary medical care. It was the law of the Affordable Care Act that ensured the citizens of the country insurance policies that were affordable.

The coverage available for your policy might differ from one state to another, which makes it necessary for you to talk to a healthcare provider regarding your benefits. You may qualify for disability benefits when you are unable to work due to HIV. Treatment and medicines used would be covered with the Medicare insurance that you hold, and it would also be covered by the government organizations that function for the effective treatment of HIV patients.

Treatment

Mental Health and Stigma

Make sure to consult healthcare services when you are suffering from depression, anxiety, and other mental traumas. Many of the symptoms can be fought with proper guidance from the professionals so that stable mental health reflects in physical strength. The stigma is also another aspect that needs fighting, and several organizations function in all countries to provide the patients with the right services and training on how to overcome such situations. Even children below 15 years get infected by HIV almost every year, and it takes years to train them to accept their condition. Living with the disease would be challenging, but with an efficient government to provide such programs to support the patients, the struggle eases.

How To Support Your Mental Health With HIV

Concern for mental health is often much lower than what people give for their physical health. No matter how healthy and fit you are, the physique could perish in a day without sound mental health. A perfectly healthy person might not easily understand the pain and trauma the ones with a fickle mind have to endure. Living with HIV is considered to be one of the biggest challenges on this planet as the patients, in most cases, get ostracized and tagged as impure. Nothing about them is alien; only the condition they carry makes them unique from others. As the perception of the disease and its acceptance is widening with time, people from all walks of life care to invest time in supporting the AIDS patients.

It is always the support of the fellow-beings that act as the force to fight the battle. But it is also important that you care for yourself, even when you are alone. Survival is your goal, and it is your efforts that matter the most here. People with HIV are likely to undergo different episodes of mood swings and mental health conditions. You may go through depression, which leads to fatigue, loss of interest in exciting activities, guilt, loss of sleep and appetite, and detachment from dear ones. The emotional well-being can be affected by HIV, and these factors can be fought only with sufficient support. Here are a few ways to keep your mental health under control, which will reflect in better management of your HIV too.

1.      Open Up to Your Healthcare Provider

You will need to make frequent visits to your healthcare provider when you are living with HIV. Key to ensuring better mental health is opening up during such appointments; make sure to talk about all the mental stresses you have been experiencing. They can support you in these situations and recommend the best treatments or exercises. Diagnosis of your mental health condition, prescription of medication, and recommendation of other mental health professionals are some of the areas where a healthcare provider can assist you.

2.      Seek Therapy

When you are asked to visit a mental health professional, seek the help of the best psychiatrists, therapists, or psychologists in your area. They can offer you counseling and therapy for cognitive behavior, both of which can help you with changing the bad habits and thoughts into positivity.

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3.      Talk to Your Friend or Family

There is no one better to reach out than your family with your issues. They aren’t mental health experts, but the love surely can heal those wounds within your mind. You could always open up to your good friends too.

4.      Support Groups

Not many people are fans of support groups since they consider it as the zone of saccharine stories and emotional rush. But as you share your concerns and issues with a group of people who have been through similar situations, you are introducing yourself into a new family with members who can support you with your survival.

7 Early Stage Symptoms of HIV

Each individual can exhibit different symptoms for the virus they carry in their body. With HIV eating up the CD4 immune cells in a human body, the chances for the affected person to contract various diseases increase as each stage passes onto a more serious one. The first signs of infection usually appear within two months, and in the less healthy people, the symptoms might start to appear in less than a month.

Many people experience symptoms similar to that of the flu; it is the body’s way of responding to the attack of the virus. The duration where your body starts showing such signs is called the seroconversion period. You must make sure to test your blood at this point to make sure if you have been affected by HIV. If the viral load keeps multiplying over time, your health is being subjected to a bigger risk. Look out for the following early-stage symptoms of HIV to head over to a healthcare center for a test, if you experience any of them.

1.      Fever

Fever is usually the first symptom of any

HIV

2.      Fatigue and Headache

Feeling lethargic occasionally after a day of activities is natural, but going through such a phase every day indicates declining health conditions. Some people might even end up hyperventilating after a few minutes of walking, while others could be winded. These are other inflammatory responses of your besieged immune system. Fatigue could go on to affect you through all stages of HIV, meaning it would remain both as an early and later symptom.

3.      Swollen Lymph Nodes and Joint Pain

Lymph nodes will get inflamed when the body gets infected, leading to swelling of those parts of the body. The function of the nodes is also impeded, making all bacteria and viruses to enter your body freely. Most of the nodes are located in groin, armpit, and neck, where you will start experiencing pain over time.

4.      Rashes

HIV seroconversion can bring about rashes on your skin as well, both as an early and late symptom. These rashes could surface on your skin in the form of boils.

5.      Vomiting, Nausea, and Diarrhea

HIV can affect the digestive system too, and it could happen in the early stages. Make sure to stay hydrated always since you don’t want to be subject to these multiple times a day.

6.      Dry Cough and Sore Throat

A dry cough that hasn’t been improving for over a month needs to be checked, and your blood must be tested as it could be a symptom of HIV.

7.      Night Sweats

Early stages of HIV could also exhibit symptoms such as night sweats, which could go on increasing in the later stages.