Staying healthy with HIV may start with keeping your CD4+ T-cell count high and your viral load low. It also includes eating healthy, exercising routinely, and taking care of your mental, emotional, and sexual health.
Before you head to the gym, talk to your healthcare provider about what exercise program is right for you.
We all know we need to exercise, but for people with HIV, it can be even more important.
Eating healthy and HIV
It's very important for people with HIV to eat healthy, and also to be careful with eating certain foods.
What kinds of foods to eat
- Protein (fish and meat) builds muscles and a strong immune system
- Carbohydrates (fruits, grains, starches, and sugars) give you energy
- Healthy fats (like olive oil or fat in avocado) are good for extra energy
- Vitamins and minerals are supplements (added nutritional value)
- Water helps cells—and your body—stay healthy
Food safety for people living with HIV
- Don't eat raw eggs, raw meats, or raw seafood (including sushi and shellfish)
- Wash fruits and vegetables well before eating them
- Use a separate surface for cutting up raw meats to cook
- Always wash your hands and cooking tools with soap
- Ask your healthcare provider if there are any foods you shouldn't eat with the medication you're taking
HIV and weight loss
Infection with HIV can lead to losing weight without wanting to. Here are some foods that can help you keep a healthy weight. Of course, don't eat foods you're allergic to, and talk to your healthcare provider before changing your diet.
- peanut butter
- legumes (dried beans and peas)
- dairy foods like pasteurized cheese and cooked eggs
- instant breakfast drinks
Water that's not filtered can have bacteria, viruses, and parasites in it that people with HIV have to avoid. Remember these two tips:
- Never drink water from the outdoors, like lakes, rivers, or streams
- If you're traveling to a place where the water safety isn't guaranteed, only drink water from a sealed bottle, and avoid ice
Go in for regular CD4+ T-cell and
viral load tests
The best way to find out if your HIV is under control is to go to your healthcare provider for regular lab testing, usually once every 3–6 months. This will include checking your CD4+ T-cell count and viral load. Remember, your CD4+ T-cell count should go up and stay up and your viral load should be as low as possible.