For those living with HIV, their healthiest life might still be ahead of them. With the right medication and a healthy approach to life, there are no longer any limitations to the kind of life a person living with HIV can have. Although living with a chronic illness can sometimes be difficult to manage, it also can be the catalyst to making healthier choices that someone might not otherwise make. And for those with HIV, just a few life changes can make all the difference when it comes to your mental and physical health.
Here are five tips to living healthy and happy with HIV.
Find a doctor that fits your personality.
For a person living with HIV, the first step to living a healthy life is to first find a doctor who you can trust and be honest with. After all, your doctor is going to be with you on every step of the journey, so how you feel about him or her can have an impact on how well you take care of yourself. Don’t be afraid to try a few on for size until you find the right physician for you. You wouldn’t settle in your love life, don’t settle when it comes to your health.
Find a pharmacist who knows how to help you.
Finding the right doctor may be obvious when it comes to living well with HIV, but many folks overlook the importance of an HIV-specialized pharmacist. A good pharmacist who’s trained on the issues that people with HIV face can be a vital resource in your care. From questions on side-effects to help with insurance navigation, choosing the right HIV-specialized pharmacy can be an ace up your sleeve.
Need help finding a good pharmacist? Walgreens has hundreds of HIV-specialized pharmacies across the country. Visit HIV.Walgreens.com for more information.
Move Your body.
You don’t need us to tell you how important exercise is, but for people with HIV, there are some additional benefits to working up a sweat. Even when fully suppressed, HIV can still increase inflammation and increase your risk for cardiovascular and heart disease. So by hitting that elliptical or swimming a few laps, you can decrease this risk while looking and feeling good at the same time. Exercise can also naturally increases your body’s endorphins and serotonin levels, which helps combat anxiety and depression. And it can give you quite the confidence boost, too.
Quit smoking already!
If you are a smoker, you know how hard it is to give it up for good. But believe it of not, you and your health are worth more than your cigarettes. An estimated 60 percent of people with HIV are smokers. This habit greatly increases your risk for heart disease and certain cancers in people with HIV. If you are looking for a reason to quit, what better one could you ask for? And if you need help, talk to that awesome doctor that you finally found.
Have more sex.
That’s right! More sex can help you sleep, reduce stress and depression, and even boost immunoglobulin levels, which conveniently helps fight infections. Having more sex can also boost your testosterone levels, and people with HIV are more likely to experience low testosterone over time. With your preferred prevention method, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be having as much of it as possible.
Stay tuned in on the latest information.
You are the best advocate for your own health, so stay up-to-date on the latest science related to HIV. Whether it is the latest results on the effectiveness on treatment as prevention or a new medicine on the market, you are the only person who can look out for your health. After a while, you might find that it’s you who is educating your doctor on what treatment is best for you instead of the other way around.
One of the biggest potential hindrances on an HIV-positive person’s health is to feel alone. It might feel like there is no one to talk to, but there are people out there who care about you and, more importantly, don’t judge you at all. Open up to a friend or loved one about what you are going through. The more you talk about living with HIV, the less of an impact it will have on your health. Creating a good support system will give you the safety net you need when challenges arrive. You totally got this, but your friends and family still might need to remind you from time to time.
Tyler Curry is the editor at large for Plus Magazine and the Virology Account Manager for Walgreens in Central Texas.