HIV can weaken the body’s immune system making it susceptible to other infections, and it can be these co-infections that cause complications with long-term health. What other reason can put people living with HIV at an increased risk of contracting other infections?
HIV complications do not always come directly from the virus. Complications can arise due to the effect of HIV weakening the immune system. Therefore it is particularly important for people living with HIV to monitor their health, not only HIV markers such as viral load and CD4 cell count but by screening for co-inefctions such as hepatitis B and C.
Adults have 206 bones which provide support, movement, protection and a source of calcium. How can HIV affect bone health long term?
Osteoporosis is most commonly known to affect post-menopausal women, but it is more common in people living with HIV. Studies are ongoing to investigate why, but factors such as HIV treatment, low testosterone levels, smoking and alcohol can increase the risk of bone and hip fractures, all of which can be common amongst people living with HIV.
Treatment advances mean that people living with HIV today are far less likely to develop AIDS. They are living longer with a life expectancy similar in many cases, to that of the general population. Naturally with age, the risk of certain cancers can increase and these risks are further increased amongst people living with HIV. Which three cancers are classified as AIDS-defining?
Kaposi sarcoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and cervical cancer are often called “AIDS-defining conditions” and have become much less common since the introduction of antiretroviral treatment. Studies around the connection between HIV/AIDS and certain cancers are ongoing, but the main factor is that the HIV virus weakens the immune system reducing the body’s ability to fight infections that may lead to certain cancers, such as those mentioned here.
To find out more about these types of cancer, visit the My Health webpage on this site for further details of each. There are also useful questions to ask your doctor at the bottom of the page to help you shape your conversation during your next appointment.
The risk of heart disease increases with age, regardless of whether you are living with HIV, as the heart has to work harder as you get older. Living with HIV can increase the risk of heart disease in addition to age, but why?
Please select the incorrect answer
Although people with HIV are living longer lives since the invention of HAART, the use of antiretroviral treatment and the HIV virus itself can increase the risk of heart disease and so it is important for people living with HIV to maintain a healthy heart. This can be done by adopting simple routines such as exercising, eating healthily and quitting smoking.
Long-term kidney disease affects up to 1 in 3 people with HIV, who show signs that their kidneys are not working properly. Kidney health can be monitored over time with regular check-ups. Which simple method below helps test the normal functioning of the kidney?
Several types of proteins can be detected through urine samples requiring only a few tablespoons of urine. The levels of protein found are a good indicator as to how well the kidneys are absorbing/excreting certain proteins and therefore how efficiently they are working. To manage the long-term health of your kidneys, contact your doctor for a quick kidney health check now.
The liver is an essential organ and has many vital roles such as filtering and removing toxins from the blood, producing proteins, breaking down fat and releasing iron and vitamins. Liver function reduces naturally with age but more so in people living with HIV, which can be due to the use of prescription/over-the-counter drugs, likelihood of higher alcohol consumption and increased risk of viral hepatitis which is more commonly seen in people living with HIV. It’s important that people living with HIV protect their liver from an early age.
Below is a list of ways that PLWHIV can help manage their liver health, but which option is not considered advisable?
There are various simple measures which can be taken to manage liver health on a daily basis. The most effective way to optimise long-term liver health is to make positive lifestyle changes and have positive conversations with your doctor. Use the My Conversations webpage on this site to get an idea of how to structure these conversations.
Life can prove difficult at times, regardless of HIV status, with 1 in 4 people experiencing times when they cannot cope with the normal stresses of life or work. Furthermore, the HIV virus can have a physical effect on nerve and brain cells, increasing the risk of people living with HIV becoming susceptible to psychological stresses. What is considered to be the best approach for people living with HIV if they are experiencing low mood or sleep problems?
If you’re suffering from symptoms of psychological stress such as depression, insomnia, excessive worries or confused thinking and you find that your HIV status is further impacting on this, there’s no need to suffer alone. This is very common and by contacting your doctor you can get support on how to manage the challenges. Although talking to family and friends can help, getting support from a healthcare professional at an early stage can help to stop symptoms progressing. Taking herbal remedies isn’t recommended as they can interact with HIV medications.
It’s well known that an important factor for a healthy lifestyle is good nutrition, regardless of HIV status. Managing your diet and weight while living with HIV can be a challenge. What can people living with HIV do to prevent weight gain?
Please select the incorrect answer
As with anyone, regardless of HIV status, maintaining health nutrition can be tricky and historically, people living with HIV were underweight. Studies show that the lower the viral load when starting treatment, the less likely you are to gain weight and it is therefore advised to start treatment as early as possible after diagnosis to limit weight gain.
Visit the Nutrition webpage for more background on this topic and speak to your doctor on how you can manage nutrition in line with your treatment.
The challenges for people living with HIV have reduced over time, and the outlook on life is now much more positive. Many of the same challenges are faced by both men and women living with HIV, however, women are more likely to face greater challenges whilst planning and caring for a family and later in life.
What is the primary reason for women living with HIV to present with gynaecological problems?
Women living with HIV can often experience changes and irergularities to their periods. This can be less common if you are taking HIV treatment and have a high CD4 cell count. Certain gynecologic conditions can be more common or more difficult to treat so it’s important for women living with HIV to take care of their gynaecological health and discuss any changes with their doctor.
Visit the Women’s health webpage for more information on this topic as well as advice on how to manage pregnancy and childbirth whilst living with HIV.
With advances in HIV treatment, positive conversations with doctors and adoption of a healthy lifestyle, the life expectancy for people living with HIV is continuing to increase. When is it recommended that someone with HIV starts treatment?
HIV treatment used to begin when the CD4 count fell below 350, however this has since changed and it’s now recommended for people living with HIV to start treatment as soon as possible after diagnosis, irrespective of CD4 count. Studies show that early treatment can help improve health and prolong the lives of people living with HIV by keeping viral load low. A low viral load can help reduce the risk of coinfections and health issues mentioned so far in this quiz.
To find out more about HIV status, diagnosis and treatment options visit the My Conversations webpage on this site to help identify which personalised questions you can ask your doctor and then discuss these topics during your next appointment.
Your knowledge is great! You seem to know a lot about managing long-term health whilst living with HIV. If there are any topics that you’d like further information on, visit the My Health section of this website.
To develop a personalised doctor discussion aid within seconds, visit the My Conversations page for guidelines on what to ask your doctor during your next appointment.
You seem to have a general idea on how to manage long-term health whilst living with HIV, but there’s room for improvement!
For further information on all of the topics mentioned in this quiz, visit the My Health section of this website and find out how you can take appropriate steps to manage your health and have positive conversations with your doctor.