How to Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle With HIV

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At Health Services of North Texas, we offer comprehensive care to patients with HIV or AIDS throughout Denton, Plano, and Wylie, TX. Whether infectious disease management services or virus testing, our HIV care is both confidential and private. We serve patients who may have been exposed to HIV or who live with HIV throughout Denton and Collin counties. For low-income patients, we offer Ryan White services. Never delay treatment when you suspect you have HIV or if you’re living with it. Ultimately, many people are living with HIV and don’t know it. Getting an HIV test is important to stop the progression of the HIV virus into AIDS.

Some services we offer include:

  • HIV/AIDS testing

  • Pre-exposure prophylaxis

  • HIV/AIDS education

  • Counseling

  • HIV medication management

  • Case management

  • Prescription Assistance Program

  • Transportation services for medical visits (to Ryan White patients)

What is HIV?

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks your immune system. It destroys T-helper cells, which is a white blood cell found in the immune system that makes copies of itself. As it destroys more cells and makes more copies, the patient’s immune system is weakened continuously. This means that someone who has HIV and isn’t being treated will struggle to fight off the disease or illness on their own. With proper treatment from antiretrovirals from Health Services of North Texas, you can live a long and healthy life with HIV. This treatment helps to reduce the level of HIV in the body to such a low level that it is undetectable on a blood test. This means that you cannot pass it on to a sexual partner. HIV can be transmitted through vaginal or anal fluid, semen, blood, and even breast milk.

What is AIDS?

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is an advanced HIV infection, also known as late-stage HIV. A person has AIDS when their immune system is so compromised that they can’t fight off the HIV infection any longer. When left untreated, it can lead to death. With proper HIV treatment, many people don’t even develop AIDS as they manage their HIV symptoms so well.

What are the stages and symptoms of HIV?

There are four stages of HIV, including:

  1. Acute primary infection: This stage includes flu-like symptoms, including fever, sore throat, rash, headache, joint aches, or muscle pain. These symptoms usually occur 1 – 4 weeks after infection. They occur because your body is trying to fight the HIV virus off. However, your cells are being infected. HIV doesn’t always show up on a test at this early stage, so we recommend you are tested again to confirm your results. At this stage, you are most likely to pass on the virus to others.

  2. Asymptomatic HIV infection: The second stage is when you begin to feel better after these initial symptoms. Even though you may not be feeling symptoms, the virus is still infecting your cells and making copies of itself to damage your immune system.

  3. Symptomatic HIV infection: The third stage of HIV is when your immune system becomes severely damaged. Persistent cough, weight loss, night sweats, and chronic diarrhea are all common signs of this stage of HIV.

  4. AIDS (Progression of HIV to AIDS): There is no actual test for AIDS. However, our doctors at Health Services of North Texas can look at your viral load numbers, CD4 counts, and the presence of infection to make an AIDS diagnosis.

How to treat HIV

With proper medication management, not all patients with HIV will progress to Stage 4 AIDS. The sooner that HIV treatment begins, the more likely you can maintain an early stage and not progress to one that causes severe damage to your body and immune system. For patients who are at risk for contracting HIV, we can prescribe PrEP with Truvada®. This daily pill decreases your chance of contracting HIV, but only if taken regularly. At Health Services of North Texas, we treat HIV patients with antiviral medications.

Living with HIV

Some tips for living healthy with HIV include:

  • Eat a healthy diet: Eating a balanced diet helps your body to absorb treatment best and to fight off infection. It will provide you the energy and nutrients needed to manage your HIV symptoms.

  • Exercise regularly: Being active helps prevent muscle mass and strength loss that some HIV patients experience. It also helps you maintain both good physical and mental health. Exercise has been proven to help your immune system to work best, which is vital for HIV patients.

  • Avoid excessive alcohol or drug use: When you’re living with HIV, it’s important to limit or avoid alcohol and drugs. Alcohol damages the liver, which the body uses to process anti-HIV drugs. Certain medications can interact negatively with recreational drugs, which will cause different side effects.

Learn about our compassionate HIV care in Texas

When you’re living with HIV, our compassionate medical team at Health Services of North Texas can provide the support and treatment you need. At all of our locations across North Texas, we offer HIV treatment, testing, case management, and other services for our patients. To learn more about HIV care, call one of our locations to schedule an appointment for HIV treatment or testing today.