Staying Healthy With HIV
Staying Healthy With HIV
Brett Grodeck (Author, The First Year - HIV) gives expert video advice on: Why should I stop smoking if I have HIV?; Is it okay to take 'party drugs' to forget about HIV?; Will exercise help fight HIV? and more...
Why do I need to live a healthy life if I'm dying from HIV?
These days, the medicine for HIV is so good that other threats to health come into play. For example, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, heart conditions over time, drug overdose, suicide. Those are all causes of death for HIV sufferers that are becoming more and more important. The likelihood of dying of HIV is so low that it suddenly makes the likelihood of getting lung cancer all that more present.
Why should I stop drinking if I have HIV?
Certainly it is possible to drink and take HIV medication but alcohol abuse is very common among people with HIV. Research shows that people with HIV tend to drink more than the average person. The kind of lifestyle that develops with people who drink too much can lead you down a bad path. If you find yourself drinking and driving or drinking and getting into situations that aren't good for your health, those are all just as harmful to your health as the HIV itself. So, while alcohol has very little direct impact in the course of HIV, a lifestyle that can develop, smashing into a tree is just as likely whether you're HIV positive or not.
Why should I stop smoking if I have HIV?
The reasons to stop smoking are not only the regular reasons that we all should quit smoking, but new research showing that as people with HIV live longer because of HIV medications, that they are a little bit more likely to get lung cancer. The reasons are really the same, because we're all looking to be healthy over the long term, HIV positive or not, smoking cigarettes is never a good thing for your health. So quitting smoking is like a promise to yourself that you're going to live a long and happy life whether you're HIV positive or not.
Is it okay to take 'party drugs' to forget about HIV?
I think party drugs are a path that people sometimes take, HIV positive or not, that never leads to a good place. I never hear stories about HIV sufferers who get involved with illicit drugs getting job promotions or making great friends, meeting great people. I always hear those stories end in desperation and despair for the HIV sufferer. Drugs, especially white powder drugs, are always a dead end street. They never improve your health, HIV positive or not. They never improve your life, HIV positive or not. They only distract you from the business of living. I see a lot of people who are HIV-positive, especially newly diagnosed people, drift off into drug abuse and it never ends well. Drug abuse is never a road that would lead you to health and happiness.
Is it ok to use crystal meth once in a while if I have HIV?
The research, and my personal experience, and the experience of many HIV doctors, tells us all that recreational drug, recreational crystal meth use, never stays recreational. It always leads to more and worse situations. The addictive chemical nature of crystal meth is such that it will draw you back to repeated use over time and it always leads to despair. It's always an escalator going downward. You can use it on occasion, and you may believe that you are a recreational user, but everytime you use crystal meth, your brain is trained to like it even more. So, if you hear someone say, "oh, I do it on occasion", that's for right now, but, you're either heading for disaster with crystal meth, or you're not doing it at all.
What is 'HIV wasting syndrome'?
HIV wasting syndrom is a condition that was very common a long time ago. It was literally loss of body weight from profound immune depression. Today, the medicines are so good that profound immune depression just doesn't happen. Instead, some people taking HIV medicines can experience what's called lypodystrophy, which is a redistribution of fat cells in your body. Sometimes there's a thinning of fat cells in your legs or your arms, perhaps on your face, and a thickening of fat cells in the center or the trunk area. These can sometimes happen from the HIV drugs, and with the newer drugs they tend to happen a lot less. For classic HIV wasting syndrome, however, that's only a condition that occurs with extreme immune depression, and with today's medicine, it rarely occurs.
What is a healthful diet for someone with HIV?
There are two ways to think about nutrition and HIV. One is with controlled HIV, and what I mean by controlled is taking HIV medicine. That's when your viral levels are low if not undetectable. The other way to think about HIV and nutrition is if you have a high viral load, and you're not quite ready to take HIV medications. They're very different things. Where you have a high viral load, you tend to need more energy, because the virus is literally replicating in your body. So a long time ago, that used to be the mantra was to eat more and get lots of calories. That's not the case now with new medication. Now the mantra is stay lean and healthy and follow the principles of a healthy diet that you would ordinarily follow, especially to head off some of the side effects that are caused by some of the medications. A good healthy diet as described by the Health and Human Services food pyramid is a really great way to start. I mean, healthy eating is, after all, healthy eating. So having HIV or not doesn't give you a free pass to eat whatever you want.
Will exercise help fight HIV?
Exercise by itself does not have an impact on the progression of HIV disease. What exercise can help is with developing a healthy life and body and the life aspects of exercise are immense. It stimulates your brain. It elevates your mood. It gets your blood moving. It strengthens your heart. There was a time when people thought that exercise may promote the replication of HIV. That's just not the case. It has almost no impact on HIV viral replication. But it is good for healthy lifestyle when you suffer from HIV. It reduces your risk of heart problems and obesity and diabetes and a variety of other things besides just making you feel really great.
What types of exercises should I do if I have HIV?
The best exercises are, HIV or not, tend to be cardio, strength training, cardio and strength training. Cardio is involved with blood pressure and overall health where strength training tends to focus on the actual muscles. All of this can help safeguard against some of the side effects of HIV medicine. Sometimes, HIV medicine can cause an elevated level of cholesterol so exercise can help counteract a lot of the side effects.