Like many chronic (long term) health conditions, HIV presents an opportunity to look after yourself better and to re-focus your mindset and physical health.
The following is a basic guide to keeping well:
- Find a good doctor that you trust and are comfortable talking with about any aspect of your health
- Get some exercise – it’s great for relieving stress and keeping your heart healthy. Balance cardio workouts with strength and stretching exercise
- Try meditation and mindfulness. It creates a peaceful space in your day and has proven health benefits
- Eat fresh food-based meals, regularly
- Quit smoking – it can weaken your ability to fight infection and put you at greater risk of cancers, heart disease and even sexual dysfunction. PositiveLifeNSW runs regular free quit smoking programs.
- Remember your teeth and gums. It’s important to brush, floss, drink plenty of water and see your dentist regularly. Open your mouth: a guide to maintaining a healthy mouth for people with HIV is an easy to read booklet about looking after your mouth, gums and teeth. You can also take advantage of a range of oral health programs designed to help people living with HIV get good dental care (The medicare rebated dental treatment Enhanced Primary Care (EPC) for people with chronic and complex conditions (including HIV) – is no longer funded)
- Get enough sleep – it’s your healing time
- Ask for help – depression, stress and anxiety affect most of us at some point in our lives. Counselors with HIV expertise are available to help you work through the tough times or challenging issues
- Develop your social network – everyone needs interests and friends. Pozhet is one place to start to meet others with HIV. Our events calendar includes workshops, retreats and support groups. Pozhet is for all positive women and men, single, married, their partners and family members
Vitamins, minerals and supplements
The best vitamins and minerals come in the fresh food that you eat. However, some people choose to take vitamins and minerals to give themselves extra support. It’s important to discuss anything you take with your doctor or dietitian, as some vitamins may interact with other medications – doing more harm than good. For example, it’s important to avoid St John’s Wort and grapefruit with some medications.
For people that struggle to get their nutritional requirements, a medical practitioner or dietitian will prescribe nutritional supplements. If you’re concerned about your diet, weight or energy levels, you should discuss it with your HIV specialist and ask to be assessed by an ‘Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD)’.
If you do need to take vitamins or any supplements, some of them can be bought at wholesale prices from ACON’s Vitamin Service.
Pozhet can provide you with more information or help you find support, such as:
- Specialist HIV social workers, dietitians or physiotherapists across NSW
- Discounted nicotine patches at your pharmacy
- Free oral health care and quit smoking support
Booklets and fact sheets:
- Our Tips for living well factsheet contains practical ideas developed by straight men and women living with HIV
- For women, we developed the Looking after yourself factsheet
- Pozhet contributed to a directory of support services for people in Sydney. (published August 2014)
- Your Body Blueprint is an Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) website with advice about living healthily with HIV