The kidneys provide a system that filters and cleans blood and excretes the waste products into urine. They also regulate blood pressure as well as the levels of many parts of your blood. It is important to know if your kidneys are healthy because the kidneys, along with the liver, influence the way the body handles different doses of HIV treatments and other drugs.
Diabetes (high sugar levels) and hypertension (high blood pressure) are the most common causes of chronic kidney disease. The rates of both of these conditions are usually significantly higher in people with HIV, and as a result, as people with HIV get older chronic kidney disease may become more common.
Some HIV treatments have also been linked to kidney disease.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can also lead to infection and disease of the kidney, particularly if it keeps recurring or is left untreated.
Visit the Kidney Health page of the NAPWHA site for information about urinary tract infections.
What you can do to live well:
Blood Sugar, Insulin Resistance and Diabetes
Normally blood glucose is distributed to your body’s tissues under the control of insulin. Glucose is then used as ‘fuel’ to meet the energy required by your body. In some cases, this process is disturbed and more insulin is needed for the tissues to take up glucose from the blood. The tissues are said to be ‘resistant’ to insulin, leading to a condition called insulin resistance; which is more common with increased abdominal fat, buffalo hump and HIV-positive people on treatments.
Insulin resistance can lead to Diabetes, a condition where blood glucose becomes quite high.
Some of the factors associated with increased risk for diabetes include:
HIV-positive people are also at higher risk due to some treatments (protease inhibitors), and a higher prevalence of some of the risk factors for diabetes.
Preventing diabetes is important for people with HIV because it leads to increased risk of cardiovascular disease (for which people with HIV are already at increased risk) and in the longer term is associated with the development of a number of diabetes-related conditions.
What you can do to live well:
If you are living with diabetes and HIV
If you are a woman living with diabetes and HIV
Yeast infections are very common, with about three-quarters of all women having one at least once in their lives. Symptoms include vaginal itching and thick, white vaginal discharge. Diabetes, especially poorly controlled diabetes, is a risk factor for yeast infections (i.e. high glucose levels promote yeast attachment and growth, and also interfere with immune responses in the host).
First-line treatment typically involves creams or ointments that are applied directly to the affected areas. Oral treatments are also available but may have interactions with oral medications for diabetes; consultation with a primary care provider is advised. Whether an oral or topical medication is chosen, treatment must include achieving optimal blood glucose control.