LIVING WITH HIV

When someone becomes infected with the HIV virus it usually takes a long time before they have any symptoms of ill health. Without treatment the amount of HIV in the blood will increase over time and after several years the person may suffer serious ill health.

In the UK we have had access to good quality treatment and care for many years now. When diagnosed early and appropriately treated HIV can be a manageable condition and most people may expect to have a normal life expectancy. Upon diagnosis, you will be encouraged to begin HIV treatments and medication straight away.

Medical Treatment and Care

To gain the maximum benefit from HIV treatments it is best to be diagnosed at the earliest possible stage. The health of your immune system can then be monitored regularly and with medication, you are able to be fully supported with the management of your condition and all round wellbeing.

When people are diagnosed at a later stage they can usually still benefit from treatment but it may be harder to get back to a good state of health.

If you need to take HIV treatment you must take the medication regularly as prescribed. It is important not to skip doses even when you are feeling okay because this can lead to you developing drug resistant strains of HIV. If this happens you can be given a different type of medication but there are a limited number of treatment options so you need to be careful.

Looking After Yourself

Most people living with HIV and on medication enjoy good health and wellbeing. You can look after yourself by following the general principles of good health that apply to everyone.

There are some basic things that we can all do to help stay healthy:

  • Eat a balanced diet

  • Get regular exercise

  • Give up smoking

  • Get enough rest and sleep

  • Talk to people and get support

  • Take any medication you need, regularly and on time

  • Be moderate in your use of alcohol and other recreational drugs

  • Get a regular sexual health check if appropriate

An imbalance in one aspect of health may impact on other aspects.  For example, people with mental health issues such as depression or low self esteem may misuse alcohol, recreational drugs or be reckless with their sexual behaviour.

If you find it hard to look after yourself ask for help. Staffordshire Buddies can give you information and support to help you better manage your health and well being.