It’s all still possible: Starting points for living well with HIV

 

How can I stay healthy with HIV?

1. Get a good doctor. If possible, find a doctor who has experience treating people living with HIV. If you can, find a doctor you can talk to openly and honestly.

When you have HIV, regular visits to your doctor will help you stay on top of your health.

Your doctor will likely suggest a complete medical checkup. Other health conditions (such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs), hepatitis, diabetes or heart conditions) can affect your health, so it’s a good idea to get tested for these as well.

“What I try to tell people is that an HIV diagnosis is significant—it’s not something to trivialize—but if you get on effective antiretroviral therapy and we work on this together, you’ll be around well into old age. We’ll both be hobbling around my office together when we’re 102!... With effective treatment and ongoing care, HIV can be very manageable.”

—Dr. Lisa Barrett

2. Start HIV treatment. Today’s HIV drugs are easier to take than older ones, and they can help you stay healthy. Effective treatment can also prevent HIV from being passed to others.

3. Take care of your mental and emotional health. Stress, depression and anxiety often go hand-in-hand with finding out you have HIV. There’s no shame in any of this. Talk to your doctor, a counsellor or a therapist if you’re struggling with mental health issues. Talking to another person who is living with HIV can also be helpful.

4. Eat a well-balanced diet, exercise regularly and get plenty of rest.

5. If you’re a smoker, try to quit smoking, or smoke less. Talk to you doctor, nurse or pharmacist about ways to help you quit smoking.

6. Try to reduce or stop using drugs, alcohol or other substances that could be harmful to your health. If you want help doing this, your doctor, community health centre or local HIV organization may be able to help.