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The AIDS Virus and HIV 101 - The Basics

Staying Healthy While Living With HIV


Updated June 10, 2014

How Can I Stay Healthy?

In addition to a healthy lifestyle; one that includes safer sex, exercise, a good diet and regular exercise, the first step to staying healthy is to find an HIV specialist. A specialist is defined as a physician trained in infectious disease and who manages the care of at least 25 HIV positive people each year. Experts agree that in order for a physician to be proficient in the care of HIV positive people he must care at least 25 HIV infected people each year. HIV is a very complex disease and its science changes often. To keep up with these changes and in order to offer the best HIV care, the doctor must make HIV care a regular part of their practice. Look for a doctor who is not only current on all available therapies but is receptive to input from you as well. Having a say in your own care is one of the most important aspects of staying healthy when living with the AIDS virus.

Finding The HIV Specialist Right For You

Why See an HIV Specialist?

How Do I Know I'm Winning the Fight Against the AIDS Virus?

Along with regular visits to your doctor, blood tests will monitor two values that track how well you are fighting your HIV. These two values along with how you actually feel are indicators of how you are doing in your fight against HIV.

  • CD4 Count - A CD4 or T-cell count will indicate the health of your immune system. The higher the CD4 count, the healthier your immune system is. If your HIV is not controlled, your CD4 count will fall and eventually you will contract an opportunistic infection or AIDS defining illness.

    Why Are CD4 Counts Important?

    Understanding Absolute CD4 Counts and CD4 Percentage

  • HIV Viral Load - The HIV viral load is a measurement of the amount of active HIV circulating in your blood. A lower viral load means less viral replication, which means less damage to the immune system. The goal of HIV medications is to keep viral replication to a minimum and thereby preserving CD4 count and the body's immune system.

    Two Types of Viral Load Testing

    Why Are HIV Viral Loads Important?

What are Opportunistic Infections (OIs)?

These are infections that take advantage of the body when the immune system is damaged or weakened. As the immune system grows weaker, your risk of becoming sick from an opportunistic infection increases. Medications in the form of antibiotics are available to help reduce the risk of acquiring opportunistic infections while your immune system is too weak to fight off infection and illness.

Antibiotics That Protect You from OIs

HIV can be medically managed and a person can live a long healthy life with HIV. The key is a healthy lifestyle, safer sex, and having a good understanding of HIV and AIDS. What can you do to stay healthy?

  • Ask plenty of questions.
  • Learn all that you can learn about HIV.
  • If you are on medications take them as prescribed, without missing doses each and every day.
  • Make healthy lifestyle choices.
  • User safer sex methods.
  • Enjoy a healthy life to its fullest.

How Long Can You Live With HIV?

Medication Adherence Ideas That Work

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