Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Is Living With Hiv Hard

Managing Stress And Supporting Mental Health

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Living with HIV can increase the likelihood of stress, anxiety, and depression. In addition, some opportunistic infections can affect the nervous system, resulting in changes in behavior and thinking.

Anyone concerned about their mental or emotional health should contact a healthcare professional. Some available treatments can improve a persons quality of life and help them cope with other pressures.

Nonmedicated ways of managing stress and mood disorders include:

sleep issues. The reasons are unclear, but anxiety could play a role.

A lack of sleep can affect the immune system and have other mental and physical consequences. Anyone living with HIV who has sleep problems should inform a healthcare professional, who may recommend therapy or medication.

Learning more about HIV can help a person feel more in control of their situation.

How Is Hiv Diagnosed

A doctor may suspect HIV if symptoms last and no other cause can be found.

If you have been exposed to HIV, your immune system will make antibodies to try to destroy the virus. Doctors use tests to find these HIV antibodies or antigens in urine, saliva, or blood.

If a test on urine or saliva shows that you are infected with HIV, you will probably have a blood test to confirm the results.

Most doctors use a blood test to diagnose HIV infection. If the test is positive , a test to detect HIV DNA or RNA will be done to be sure.

HIV antibodies may show up in the blood as early as 2 to 4 weeks after contact but can also take as long as 3 to 6 months to show up in the blood. If you think you have been exposed to HIV but you test negative for it:

  • Get tested again. A repeat test can be done after a few weeks to be sure you are not infected.
  • Meanwhile, take steps to prevent the spread of the virus, in case you do have it.

You can get HIV testing in most doctors offices, public health units, hospitals, and HIV care clinics.

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Having Hiv Means You Have Aids

Myth.Human immunodeficiency virus is a virus that destroys the body’s CD4 immune cells, which help fight disease. With the right medications, you can have HIV for years or decades without HIV progressing to AIDS. AIDS is diagnosed when you have HIV as well as certain opportunistic infections or your CD4 cell count drops below 200.

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Whats The Difference Between Hiv And Aids

The difference between HIV and AIDS is that HIV is a virus that weakens your immune system. AIDS is a condition that can happen as a result of an HIV infection when your immune system is severely weakened.

You cant get AIDS if you arent infected with HIV. Thanks to treatment that slows down the effects of the virus, not everyone with HIV progresses to AIDS. But without treatment, almost all people living with HIV will advance to AIDS.

Gene And Cell Therapy

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Researchers are also exploring other possible HIV cure approaches that focus on gene and cell therapies. The goal of gene therapy is to deliver therapeutic genes into a patient that will treat the disease. In cell therapy, living cells are transplanted into a patient to treat the disease.

One cell therapy approach involves engineering HIV target cells to render them resistant to HIV entry. Another approach is to modify cytotoxic T cells to selectively target and eliminate infected cells. Generally, these therapies rely on genetic modification to edit the blood cells of the patient so that they become resistant to HIV or become better at targeting and eliminating HIV and infected cells.

In gene therapy, anti-HIV genes are introduced into cells using a viral vector or an engineered nanoparticle. Gene therapies use different approaches to target HIV. In some cases, target genes are edited either by inserting a therapeutic sequence or by disrupting DNA sequences of proteins that are important in the HIV life cycle. Examples of gene editing methods include the use of TAL-effectors or zinc fingers with nuclease, and/or CRISPR-Cas9. With these techniques, a specific sequence of DNA is recognized and cut, and new DNA is introduced at the cut site.

Kuhlmann AS, Peterson CW, Kiem HP. Chimeric antigen receptor T cell approaches to HIV cure. Curr Opin HIV AIDS. 2018 13:446-453.

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More About Hiv Transmission

When youre born with HIV, the virus was passed to you from your mother. But mother-to-child transmission is not the only way in which HIV is transmitted. More commonly, HIV is passed on via sex or by injecting drugs with shared injecting equipment.

Transmission is dependent on the HIV positive persons viral load if the viral load is undetectable, the virus cant be passed on.

What Are The Stages Of Hiv

HIV has three stages:

Stage 1: Acute HIV

Some people get flu-like symptoms a month or two after theyve been infected with HIV. These symptoms often go away within a week to a month.

Stage 2: Chronic stage/clinical latency

After the acute stage, you can have HIV for many years without feeling sick. It’s important to know that you can still spread HIV to others even if you feel well.

Stage 3: AIDS

AIDS is the most serious stage of HIV infection. In this stage, HIV has severely weakened your immune system and opportunistic infections are much more likely to make you sick.

Opportunistic infections are ones that someone with a healthy immune system could typically fight off. When HIV has advanced to AIDS, these illnesses take advantage of your weakened immune system.

Youre more likely to get certain cancers when you have AIDS. These cancers and opportunistic infections together are called AIDS-defining illnesses.

To be diagnosed with AIDS, you must be infected with HIV and have at least one of the following:

  • Fewer than 200 CD4 cells per cubic millimeter of blood .
  • An AIDS-defining illness.

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Hiv Treatments And Therapies

Research shows that HIV treatment should begin as soon as possible after diagnosis to achieve the best health outcomes. HIV treatment usually includes a combination of medicines called antiretroviral therapy . Following a treatment plan, such as taking the medications prescribed by a health care provider, is critical for controlling and suppressing the virus. Following the treatment plan can be difficult, but there are strategies that can help. For more information and helpful tips, see the HIV.gov page on Taking Medication Every Day.

Starting ART also can affect mental health in different ways. Sometimes ART can help to relieve anxiety because knowing that you are taking care of yourself can provide a sense of security. However, coping with the reality of living with a chronic illness like HIV can be challenging. In addition, some antiretroviral medicines may cause symptoms of depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbance and may make some mental health issues worse.

For these reasons, it is important for people living with HIV to talk to their health care provider about their mental health. A conversation about mental health should be part of a complete medical evaluation before starting ART, and discussions about mental health should continue throughout treatment.

Why It Is Difficult To Tell Someone A Secret

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Imagine that there was something about you that you wanted to share with a friend. It might be how you feel about your friend or someone else, or something that happened to you that you want your friends help with. The problem is that you do not know how your friend will react. Will they think differently about you? Will they make fun of you, or tell someone else what you told them? Will they be offended that you had not told them before? You know that you do not have to tell your friend, so maybe it is best just to wait for another time. Or maybe it is best not to tell anyone at all. This is how young people with HIV often feel about telling other people about their HIV.

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How Do I Take Care Of Myself With Hiv

The best way to take care of yourself while living with HIV is to follow your treatment plan.

  • Make sure to take your medications as prescribed and on time.
  • Show up to all appointments so your healthcare team can monitor how youre feeling and know if theres a need to adjust your treatment.
  • Follow your healthcare providers recommendations on how to avoid additional illnesses.

How Might Lipohypertrophy Affect Myhivteam Members Lives

Lipohypertrophy hasnt been shown to cause death in people living with HIV directly. However, it contributes to and worsens other health conditions and increases peoples risk for diabetes, insulin resistance, sleep apnea, kidney disease, acid reflux, and fatty liver disease, as well as heart disease and high cholesterol. Additionally, hard abdominal fat associated with severe lipohypertrophy can cause physical discomfort and lead to back and spine issues, as well as breathing difficulties like sleep apnea.

Lipohypertrophy has been shown to have a detrimental effect on peoples quality of life and mental health. Depression and anxiety are very common among individuals with lipohypertrophy.

Social isolation, body dysmorphia , negative self-image, decreased self-esteem, and sexual dysfunction are all more prevalent among people living with HIV-related lipodystrophy. Poor mental health and feelings of low self-worth not only impact a persons life quality, but their adherence to ART. Taking HIV medications exactly as prescribed every day is a vital part of treating HIV and successfully suppressing the virus.

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You Can Have A Healthy Baby If You Are Hiv

Fact. Infected mothers can pass HIV to their babies during pregnancy or delivery. But you can lower the risk by working with your doctor and getting the right care and medication. Pregnant women with HIV can take medications to treat their infection and to help protect their babies against the virus.

Hiv Diagnosis And Stress

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An HIV diagnosis is life changing. Once you get it, thereâs no effective cure. But with the right kind of medical treatment, you can keep the virus count in your blood low and live a long, healthy life without the risk of infecting others.

While medical advances have greatly improved life expectancy, the stigma and stress that stems from an HIV diagnosis can still take a toll on your quality of life.

âThis impacts many, many things: your dynamics with your friends, your family, your workplace, and it leads to a great deal of mental and emotional stress,â says Alan Taege, MD, an infectious disease specialist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

Negative attitudes against HIV are mostly rooted in misinformation about how the infection spreads. Many think it affects only certain groups of people. They often point to gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, race or ethnicity, drug use, or sex work as the cause of HIV spread. These attitudes may make you internalize the stigma and cause you stress. This âself-stigmaâ may make you feel scared to share the news of your HIV status with your loved ones.

Traylor says she felt this way. âI looked at it as like a punishment at first,â she says. Even though the doctors tried to assure her that with proper and timely medical care, she would be OK, Traylor says it took her about a year before she felt ready to share her HIV status.

In fact, it took her almost 6 years to feel like she was âgoing to be OK.â

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Suicidal Ideation Suicide Attempts And Hiv Infection

Suicide, attempted suicide, and suicidal ideation are complex clinical issues associated with life-threatening conditions such as HIV infection. Suicide in persons with HIV infection/AIDS has been reported in most cases to be associated with a concomitant psychiatric disorder. The risk of suicide may extend to those fearful of contracting HIV infection as well as the family and partners of those infected. Elevated lifetime rates of affective disorders and substance use disorders have been reported in studies of HIV-positive men. Furthermore, certain patterns of behavior associated with the risk of acquiring HIV infection may be associated with higher levels of suicidal ideation and psychiatric disorders.

Patterns of attempted suicide and suicidal thoughts may differ throughout the progression of HIV infection. There are at least two high-risk periods: the initial 6 months after diagnosis of infection with HIV and the onset of physical complications of AIDS. The period of greater risk may be the first 3 months.

Stage : Clinical Latency

If the infection goes undiagnosed or untreated, the immune system can bring the HIV level down some, but it cant completely control or contain it the virus is still active but multiplies more slowly, often without causing any symptoms. This is also called the clinical latency stage, or chronic HIV infection, and it can last up to 15 years.

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Other Ways Hiv May Affect Your Life

  • you will not be able to donate blood or organs
  • you will not be able to join the armed forces
  • you may have difficulty getting life insurance to cover a mortgage loan but life insurance is not compulsory when taking out a mortgage unless it’s an endowment mortgage, and there are now specialist life insurance policies for people with HIV

Hiv And Recreational Drugs: What Are The Risks

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Recreational drugs can weaken the immune system, which is especially important for people with HIV to look after. Being high can affect judgement, so people might miss HIV medication doses. This can put their health at risk.

Some HIV drugs can react to recreational drugs and cause side effects, like feeling dizzy, which is important to speak to a doctor about.

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How I Knew I Had Hiv: Sameer’s Story

Sameer already knew a lot about HIV before his diagnosis. He was sick for a few days and had a rash that made him suspect he might’ve been infected. Sameer, much like Dennis, sees his HIV diagnosis as a second chance at life. He gained a greater sense of value for life. As he learned to accept his health status, he joined a support group. The support group offered the encouragement he needed to move forward boldly.

“Really learning how to love yourself is one of the best things that came out of the experience,” Sameer says. HIV forces you to take care of yourself not just your health, but your whole lifestyle.

Dealing With Feelings Of Blame

Sometimes when people find out theyre HIV positive they want to blame someone. These feelings are completely natural and understandable.

Some young people might be tempted to stop taking their medication or seeing their doctor in order to stop thinking about their HIV. This is very dangerous and very likely to result in serious health problems.

If you find HIV too difficult to deal with, you can contact THT Direct on 0808 802 1221.

You can also get in touch with Body and Soul in London or CHIVA nationwide. They provide services to children, teenagers, young people and their families if someone in the family is living with HIV. This included support groups especially for children and young people.

If you find youre struggling with any aspect of living with HIV, please ask for help. Theres lots of support out there.

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What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor

  • Am I at high risk for HIV?
  • What can I do to reduce my risk of HIV?
  • How can I make sure I take my medications correctly?
  • What can I do to protect myself from other illnesses?
  • How can prevent the spread of HIV?
  • What do my test results mean?
  • What do my blood counts mean?
  • What vaccinations should I get?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Treatments have come a long way since the height of the AIDS epidemic. You have the best chance of living a long life if youre diagnosed early and are able to get on and stick with ART medications. People living with HIV today are able to work, have active social lives and families, and pursue fulfilling relationships. In fact, this can have a positive impact on your well-being.

While weve come a long way with treatments, unfortunately, social stigmas around HIV still persist. In addition to the feelings of fear and uncertainty a new diagnosis can bring, you may wonder how those around you will respond. If youre hesitant to get tested or get treatment, or if you just arent sure what your next steps are, you can reach out to a community organization that specializes in HIV. Remember that you are deserving of support, compassion and high-quality healthcare.

Are There Any Issues That Affect Hiv Treatment In Women

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Treatment with HIV medicines is recommended for everyone with HIV. Treatment with HIV medicines helps people with HIV live longer, healthier lives. ART also reduces the risk of HIV transmission.

People should start taking HIV medicines as soon as possible after HIV is diagnosed. However, birth control and pregnancy are two issues that can affect HIV treatment in women.

Birth control

Some HIV medicines may reduce the effectiveness of hormonal contraceptives, such as birth control pills, patches, rings, or implants. Women taking certain HIV medicines may have to use an additional or different form of birth control. For more information, view the HIV and Birth Control infographic from HIVinfo.


Women with HIV take HIV medicines during pregnancy and childbirth to reduce the risk of perinatal transmission of HIV and to protect their own health.

The choice of an HIV treatment regimen to use during pregnancy depends on several factors, including a womans current or past use of HIV medicines, other medical conditions she may have, and the results of drug-resistance testing. In general, pregnant women with HIV can use the same HIV treatment regimens recommended for non-pregnant adultsunless the risk of any known side effects to a pregnant woman or her baby outweighs the benefits of a regimen.

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