What you can expect
During the asymptomatic phase of HIV infection you will not experience any physical signs. However, with the deterioration of the immune system comes gradual symptoms which increase in severity the weaker your immune system becomes.
Being HIV positive and symptomatic may lead to extreme changes in your energy and physical health. You may experience pain, breathlessness, a change in your body image and a feeling of general tiredness. The following symptoms may also be experienced frequently:
- Fever and sweats;
- Enlarged glands;
- Lack of energy;
- Weight loss;
- Persistent of frequent yeast infections;
- Skin rashes or flaky skin;
- Short-term memory loss; and
- Some people develop frequent and severe herpes infection that can cause mouth, genital, or anal sores, or a painful nerve disease called Shingles [see: STIs].
What you can do
- Follow a balanced diet [see: Well-being > Self Care].
- Avoid junk foods, caffeine, alcohol, smoking and drugs as these will suppress your immune system.
- Take a good quality multivitamin (an immune booster) – check with your doctor before commencing with any new medication.
- Get enough rest and sleep – constant fatigue will also suppress your immune system.
- Get regular exercise [see: Well-being >Self Care].
- Always practice safer sex to prevent re-infection.
- Find an appropriate doctor skilled in HIV management.
- Go for regular check-ups to maintain good health.
- At the onset of any illness or infection get immediate medical treatment.
- Talk to your doctor about Anti-retroviral (ARV) Treatment. If already on ARV’s make sure that you adhere to the regimen – poor adherence could result in developing a resistance to the ARV.
- If you use herbal medical treatment, discuss it with your doctor – some herbal remedies may interact with ARV’s.