Being diagnosed with HIV shouldn’t stop you from living a full, productive life – but you may need to make some changes to your diet and lifestyle to help you stay healthier for longer.
PROPORTION OF PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV WHO ARE POTENTIALLY INSUFFICIENT IN VITAMIN D
Even into your late 20s, you can add to your peak bone mass. People living with HIV can be at a greater risk of osteoporosis, so the more bone mass you build up now, the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis in later years. Calcium and vitamin D are vital and can be obtained through oily fish, dairy products and egg yolks. Speak to your doctor if you are concerned about your vitamin D levels.
THE TIME IN BETWEEN YOUR CERVICAL SMEAR TESTS
In your 20s you should start having routine smear tests, which screen for cervical cancer. It is recommended that you have one at least every three years. Some women may require them as frequently as annually. Ask your doctor for advice.
AGE TO FALL IN LOVE WITH STRENGTH TRAINING
Moderate intensity regular exercise is good for your immune system and your 20s are your primary strength training years. Strength training is great for your overall health: it increases lean muscle mass, boosts metabolism and burns calories. Hit the gym and don’t be too scared to lift!
Depending on what HIV treatment you take, you may need to be extra cautious when using the morning after pill. Some HIV drugs can reduce the effectiveness of emergency contraception. Therefore, women who find themselves in a situation requiring them to prevent pregnancy should ask their doctor about the best options available.
Today, women can expect to have healthy pregnancies, if their HIV and general health are well managed. The risks of a mother transmitting HIV to her baby are greatly reduced if the mother is taking treatment and has a viral load below detection. It is important to have a discussion with your doctor if you want to become pregnant. They can ensure that you are on the most appropriate treatment and that you are in the best health to have a healthy pregnancy.
STARTS TO CHANGE
As you age your metabolism slows down. The body requires less energy and the body starts to store more body fat and less muscle mass. HIV can contribute to metabolic changes too which can increase the risk of heart disease. Lifestyle changes such as changing your diet and exercise routine can reduce your risks. If you have any concerns speak to your doctor.
AVERAGE KCAL INTAKE A WOMAN NEEDS A DAY
Within a healthy, balanced diet, a woman needs around 2,000 Kcal a day. This value can vary depending on age, metabolism and levels of physical activity, among other things. Some women may experience HIV-associated fat redistribution.
Smoking is the largest avoidable health risk in Europe. People living with HIV are at risk of dying earlier if they smoke and this risk increases with age. If you haven’t already, consider stopping now. Speak to your doctor for help and advice on stopping.
All people living with HIV, regardless of age, should receive a flu jab, as the risk of developing serious flu and related complications can be higher. Speak to your doctor about annual vaccines.
TO YOUR CHILDREN ABOUT HIV
Talking to your children about your own HIV is something that you should eventually do. The choice as to when, is an individual one. Speak to your doctor for guidance and seek help from your local support group.
WOMEN LIVING WITH HIV MAY BE MORE AT RISK
Women living with HIV may experience mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety and poor sleep. It is important to discuss any changes in your mental health with your doctor, who can offer support.
The risk of type 2 diabetes increases for women in their 40s regardless of HIV status. This risk is also increased in people living with HIV. It is good to plan ahead to reduce your future increased risks. Ask your doctor for your blood glucose results and make lifestyle changes if you’re at risk.
LITRES OF FLUID A DAY
The kidneys have several functions – removing waste products and excess water, helping control your blood pressure, producing hormones and balancing the minerals in your body. Looking after them is important for your overall health. Women should aim for 2 litres of fluid per day. Some, but not all, HIV drugs can increase the risks of kidney disease. Speak to your doctor about your kidney test results.
It is important to let your doctor know if you are taking any over the counter medications. Your doctor can check for any potential unwanted interactions with your HIV medications.
2ND MOST COMMON CAUSE OF CANCER DEATH IN THE GENERAL POPULATION
Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in Europe, regardless of HIV status. Speak to your doctor about colorectal screening which is recommended for everyone over the age of 50.
OF EUROPEANS HAVE RAISED CHOLESTEROL
Europe has the highest prevalence of elevated cholesterol in the world, which is a major cause of heart disease and stroke. HIV itself and some treatments can also increase cholesterol. The risk of stroke and heart disease is further increased if you smoke and have high blood pressure. Speak to your doctor about your cholesterol blood test results.
After the menopause, the risk of osteoporosis increases. This is because there is a direct relationship between the lack of oestrogen during the menopause and the development of osteoporosis. People living with HIV can be at an increased risk of losing bone mass so it’s good to be aware from a younger age. Make sure your daily calcium and vitamin D intake is adequate and speak to your doctor about the best way to monitor and manage your bone health.
THE NUMBER OF FUNCTIONS THE LIVER PERFORMS
As you age the liver becomes less active and less efficient at managing food and chemicals. Damage to the liver can occur more quickly if you are co-infected with hepatitis C virus or drink too much alcohol. Check out the GoBeyond app to find out more about preventing co-infections and ask your doctor about your liver test results.
MOST COMMON SLEEPING POSITIONS: SIDE, BACK AND STOMACH
Sleeping patterns often change as you get older. Getting too little sleep can increase your risk for certain health problems. If you are having problems sleeping, then speak to your doctor for help and advice.
THE AGE TO BE SCREENED FOR BREAST CANCER
Living with HIV does not put you at an increased risk of breast cancer, but all women should still be screened for breast cancer from the age of 50.
AGE WHEN BLOOD PRESSURE RISK INCREASES
Typically, blood pressure increases with age and risk begins to climb when women hit their mid-60s. This can be accelerated by some HIV treatments, smoking, obesity and too much salt, increasing the risks of heart attack or stroke. Use the GoBeyond app for healthy living tips and speak to your doctor about how to reduce your risks.
IN YOUR OLDER YEARS
>Many people living with HIV in older years are happy with their quality of life. Keeping active, socialising and joining clubs or groups can improve wellbeing and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.
NEARLY EVERYONE WILL NEED GLASSES OR LENSES BY THIS AGE
Having regular eye tests, wearing the right prescription and looking after your eyes gives you a better chance of your sight remaining clear. This will improve your quality of life and reduce the risk of accidents such as falls, which can lead to bone fractures – ask your optician how regularly you should be tested.