5 Steps to Help Manage HIV

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We know that your life dramatically changed when you received your HIV diagnosis. Not only do you have to be more vigilant with your health practices, but this vigilance will decrease the amount of time you spend on other aspects of your life. But there is help available for HIV patients living in Pennsylvania.

If you need help with HIV management in Scranton, PA, contact The Wright Center. You will be assigned a case manager who will assist you in accessing the services that are available for patients with HIV. They will help you work with agencies to obtain stable housing, assist you with transportation to and from your medical appointments, and help you fill out any insurance paperwork. There is a wide array of resources available through the center. 

Most importantly, The Wright Center will follow the lead of your primary care physician to make sure that everyone on your healthcare team is on the same page of your care.

Before we give you five tips on managing your HIV, understand that it is not our intention to provide you with healthcare advice. If you have HIV, you must be under the care of a qualified professional. 

Here are some tips from the Center for Disease Control’s website on how to live with HIV.

1. Follow a Healthy Diet

Every American needs to follow a healthy diet, but patients undergoing treatment for HIV may face a few more obstacles than others.

People with HIV sometimes suffer changes in their body’s metabolism. The medications they are prescribed may cause an upset stomach. Opportunistic infections, such as oral candidiasis and Kaposi sarcoma, can cause discomfort while eating and difficulties when swallowing. Finally, people with HIV may want to avoid raw meats and fish as such foods can affect antiretroviral therapy.

Besides those obstacles that are listed on the CDC website, following a healthy diet has other benefits for people with HIV. 

Eating a healthy diet will give you enough energy and nutrients to fight off infections. It also helps you maintain healthy body weight and improve the absorption of medicines. It also may help you manage the potential side effects of the medication. 

Again, talk with your doctor about your nutrition needs while undergoing treatment for HIV. 

2. Exercise

People with HIV should commit to exercising regularly, as long as their doctor approves it. Exercise will help you maintain good physical health while you are going through treatment. It can also increase your strength and endurance. Exercise can boost your immune system to work better to fight off infections. 

3. Stop Smoking

Although we want you to consult your doctor about a suitable diet and exercise routine, we think we can tell you with confidence that people with HIV should stop smoking. 

The CDC reports that while only 1 in 5 Americans smoke, the percentage of HIV patients who smoke is higher. This has severe ramifications on the health of these individuals. 

HIV patients who smoke are more likely to develop specific kinds of cancer, including lung, cervical, and anal cancers. 

HIV patients who smoke are also more likely to develop bacterial pneumonia, COPD, and heart disease.

HIV patients who smoke are more likely to develop diseases of the mouth.

Finally, HIV patients who smoke will have a poorer response to antiretroviral therapy. 

4. Pay Attention to Your Mental and Physical Health

Many times, people with HIV suffer from depression. Symptoms of depression can include persistent sadness or feelings of emptiness. You may feel anxiety or feelings of helplessness. You may lose your appetite or become disinterested in being around other people. 

If you find that you have symptoms of depression, you must consult your primary physician. Your physician may connect you with a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist in your area that specializes in depression in HIV patients. 

5. Understand What Resources are Available

There are many things to consider when you are being treated for HIV. Consult the CDC’s website to learn about these resources. 

Some links will assist you in finding care and paying for care. You will also find resources for traveling as an HIV patient as well as finding housing and jobs. Finally, the CDC’s website will assist you with the legal issues that you may face.

Of course, besides turning to the CDC’s website, you could also consult your case manager at The Wright Center. He or she would be your best resource for all aspects of your life with living with HIV.