Checklist for Healthy Living
Below is a list or checklist of the sorts of things you might consider when planning for a healthy, long life living with HIV.
Define your health goals now, as your aim is optimum health!
You may like to go through this list and tick off the things you feel you have under control and look at the ones you feel you may need to change now, or might have to plan ahead for. You might choose to discuss your health with your GP or HIV doctor if you are unclear, or have any questions.
You can find out more about these throughout this site.
- Find an experienced and communicative doctor, whom you feel comfortable with.
- Know about HIV treatments and when you should start taking them.
- Follow the recommended dosing instructions if you are taking ARV treatments.
- Avoid treatment breaks.
- See your HIV doctor every 3 months to monitor your viral load and CD4 count.
- If side effects are a problem, don't just put up with them, talk to your doctor about changing treatments- but don't stop treatments.
- Regularly monitor your overall health, this includes:
- Blood pressure, blood lipids, blood glucose, liver & kidney function tests, and a bone mineral density test, including a Dexa scan if applicable.
- Routine annual cardiological assessment - ECG, stress tests or cardiac ultrasound if relevant.
- Understand the significance of the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Initiate a discussion about your cardio health and/or risk with your doctor.
- Take steps to change risk factors of CVD, diabetes, bone density loss, liver and kidney disease:
- Stop smoking - the first step is to set a date
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat a balanced diet - reduce saturated fats, salts and sugars, increase fibre intake and include calcium in your diet
- Undertake regular physical activity
- Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day
- Prevention is better than a cure, so consider lifestyle changes now. If you have been diagnosed with any of the following, take active steps to improve your health;
- Low bone mineral density - talk to your doctor about prescribed medications for osteoporosis, calcium and vitamin D supplements, and get plenty of sunshine.
- Elevated lipids - discuss with your doctor the pro's and con's of diet and exercise modification and/or taking lipid lowering agents.
- High Blood Pressure - discuss with your doctor diet and exercise modifications vs. anti-hypertensive medications.
- If you are diagnosed with pre-diabetes or insulin resistance - act NOW. See a dietician and prevent the onset of diabetes.
- Avoid urinary tract infections (UTI) - avoid constipation, get vaginal infections treated quickly and if you get a UTI treat it quickly.
- Monitor for early signs of dementia – if you are worried ask your doctor for a baseline neurological assessment. Consider starting ARVs before problems arise.
- Avoid the risk of cancer - any sudden onset of diarrhoea, anal or vaginal bleeding should be investigated. Check your breasts and testicles monthly for any unusual lumps or changes in appearance.
- Talk to your doctor about vaccination for HPV (human papillomavirus).
- Get tested for hepatitis A, B & C - if you're negative then consider Hepatitis A & B vaccinations and get appropriate treatment if you have hepatitis C.
- Get vaccinated for pneumonia and flu each year.
- See your dentist every six to twelve months.
- Know about therapeutic drug interactions and inform your doctor about all the drugs you are taking.
- Know about recreational drug interactions.