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Food and Water Borne Illnesses - How Do They Affect HIV-Positive People?

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Updated December 23, 2009

Question: Food and Water Borne Illnesses - How Do They Affect HIV-Positive People?
The immune system of the HIV-infected person sometimes leaves them at risk for all sorts of illnesses and infections. Many of these are carried in the food we eat and the water we drink. These water and food borne illnesses can significantly impact the live of those living with HIV. Let's examine some of these illnesses.
Answer: There are a wide range of food borne illnesses that can impact the lives of people living with HIV. Caused primarily by bacteria some of these include:
  • Salmonella
  • Campylobacter
  • Listeria
  • Cryptosporidium
These organisms can cause
  • diarrhea
  • upset stomach
  • vomiting
  • stomach cramps
  • fever
  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • bloodstream infection
  • meningitis
  • encephalitis

In people living with HIV, the diarrhea and nausea are often much worse and more difficult to treat. In addition, these illnesses are also more likely to cause serious problems in people with HIV, such as bloodstream infections and meningitis. People with HIV also have a harder time recovering fully from these illnesses.

Important Note!
If you have any of these symptoms, especially if you have traveled recently, contact your HIV specialist.

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