Although it's important to receive medical treatment for HIV/AIDS, it's also
essential to take an active role in your own care. The following suggestions may
help you stay healthy longer:
•Make sure your doctor knows how to treat HIV. Find someone who understands the ramifications of the disease. You'll also want a doctor who is willing to work with you and who makes you feel comfortable and respected.
•Follow your doctor's instructions. Keep all of your appointments, and take your medications exactly as directed. Many treatment regimens are much simpler now than in the past — some requiring as few as one pill a day. Even so, sticking with treatment can be difficult. If you get sick from your medication, call your doctor. Don't stop taking
your medication or change the dosage on your own.
•Get immunizations. These may prevent infections such as pneumonia and the flu.
•Don't smoke or use illicit drugs. These weaken your body even more.
•Eat the healthiest diet you can. Emphasize fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. Healthy foods help keep you strong, give you more energy and support your immune system. Unfortunately, you may not always feel like eating when you have HIV. But good nutrition is tremendously important. A registered dietitian can
be especially helpful if you have diarrhea, weight loss or trouble eating. Also, because your nutritional needs are extremely high and you may not digest food well, talk to your doctor about vitamin and mineral supplements.
•Avoid foods that may put you at risk of infection. These include unpasteurized dairy products, raw eggs and raw seafood such as oysters, sushi or sashimi. Cook meat until it's well-done or until there's no trace of pink color.
•Drink pure water. The CDC recommends that you boil tap water or use bottled or filtered water for drinking. If you buy a water filter, look for one that uses reverse osmosis as part of the purification process.
•Get regular exercise. Exercise helps increase your strength and energy levels and can help battle the depression that's often a part of dealing with HIV/AIDS.
•Get enough sleep. Rest when you need to.
•Take care with companion animals. Some animals may carry parasites that can cause infections in people who are HIV-positive. But that doesn't mean you should give up your companion animal. You can protect yourself by having someone else clean your cat's litter box or pick up after your dog. If you must do these chores yourself, wear latex gloves and wash your hands immediately afterward. Don't feed your pets raw meat, and make sure they have all their shots. Always wash your hands thoroughly
with soap and water after petting or playing with your animals.
•Find ways to relax. This might mean anything from yoga or meditation to walking, reading, playing chess or computer games, or listening to music.
•Keep your hands clean. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after using the restroom, before eating or preparing food, and after spending time in public places. You might find it helpful to carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you for times when it's not convenient to use soap and water.