Lifestyle Measures for People Living with HIV

A positive diagnosis on your anonymous HIV test can undoubtedly turn your life upside down. While it means you are bound to live your life in an entirely different way than the one you have been used to, it doesn’t mean the end of your living days. Some people assume their days are numbered once they acquired HIV, but the truth is, there are many HIV-infected individuals who get to live the average life expectancy.

The key to living normally with HIV? Adapting a healthy lifestyle. It might not be absolutely the same with how most people live their lives, since you are required to be on medications for the rest of your life, but it can be the closest thing to living normally. Getting diagnosed with the virus generally entails your immune system is being compromised. Therefore, you need to be more cautious in every decision you’ll make since you’re now more vulnerable to diseases and infections.

Since 2008, the number of HIV-positive patients in Singapore has remained pretty consistent at about 450 new cases annually. In fact, the Ministry of Health has published an official report on June 2016 declaring that there were about 455 new cases of HIV found among residents during the past year.

While the diagnosis of HIV by in Singapore doesn’t have to mark the end of your life, you might as well adapt some ideal lifestyle measures to ensure the improvement of your health and quality of life.

1. Eat healthily

Eating more greens and whole foods can help you stay healthy despite your infection. Furthermore, the essential vitamins and nutrients found in healthy food can slow down the progression of the virus into full-blown AIDS, which is a far more complicated and deadly disease. Adapting a balanced diet can also prevent health-related complications brought about by malnutrition.

An ideal diet for someone who is living with HIV should be rich in protein, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and a generous amount of fruits and vegetables. It is also ideal to incorporate multivitamins in your diet; in particular, you’ll need more zinc and vitamin B12 in your system. If you get a positive result on your HIV testing session, limit your consumption of sugary drinks and deep-fried food immediately.

2. Adapt a stress-free lifestyle

It is inevitable to feel overwhelmed if you tested positive on a HIV screening session. While there is an emotional and physical baggage attached to this diagnosis, stressing yourself will only suppress your already-compromised immune system even more. This can contribute to the rapid progress of the virus into its later stages. It is then encouraged for you to learn how to stay away from stress effectively.

While we all have different coping mechanisms when it comes to getting rid of stress, there are healthy habits we can adapt that will make us feel better eventually. Some of them involve getting an adequate amount of rest and practicing meditation or yoga.

3. Exercise moderately

Exercise brings a lot of benefits to the body, especially to people who are living with HIV. Being physically active for at least three to six times per week can significantly improve mood levels and your general outlook in life. By giving your muscles proper stretching from time to time, you can contribute to the overall improvement of your quality of life.

Having moderate exercise also combats unhealthy HIV symptoms such as lack of appetite and nerve pain. When done regularly, it also effectively reduces the risk of landing other chronic diseases like heart disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes.

4. Practice safe sex

Getting diagnosed as HIV-positive after you undergo HIV testing doesn’t mean you are absolutely obliged to say goodbye to your sex life. However, it is imperative for you to start practicing safe sex as sexual transmission can spread the virus from one person to another. Should you engage in any sexual activity, always use a new latex condom or other latex barriers.

Not only will this protect your partner from acquiring HIV, but it will also protect yourself from getting infected with other sexually transmitted diseases that may only worsen your health. However, it is also important to note that some STDs like genital warts and herpes can still be passed through direct skin-to-skin contact during sex. Your remaining defense in cases like these is vigilance and caution.

5. Get tested for other STDs

It is likely possible for HIV-diagnosed patients to test positive with other sexually transmitted diseases. Common examples of these STDs include gonorrhea, genital herpes, and hepatitis B and C. Some of these cases do not have explicit symptoms, hence you might not be aware of them until the infection has already advanced.

It is encouraged for you to get yourself tested regularly in order to be aware of any potential STDs you may possess to avoid ending in unfortunate situations like such.

6. Stay away from illegal drugs

While there are prescribed drugs in form of medicines that you are urged to take on a daily dose, any person with HIV must refrain from using illegal drugs such as heroin and cocaine. The thing is, transmission of these drugs usually involves the use of needles. Sharing needles with other people when injecting these drugs into the body is one way to potentially acquire Hepatitis. Aside from that, it may also speed up the progress of the virus into full-blown AIDS.

Being diagnosed with HIV heightens the need to adapt some ideal lifestyle measures, or even change the way you live your life altogether. With your immune system unable to give you the protection you need to effectively ward off diseases and illnesses, you have to take more effort reduce HIV symptoms and improve your health. You can achieve this through adapting lifestyle changes such as exercising moderately, eating healthily, and practicing safe sex.

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