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HIV/AIDS And What Foods Can Help Them – Want a Cook


The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a chronic, sometimes fatal disease (HIV). HIV impairs your body’s capacity to fight infection and illness by destroying your immune system.

It can also be passed from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding by contact with contaminated blood. It might take years without medicine for HIV to damage your immune system to the point where you develop AIDS

Although there is no cure for HIV/AIDS, medicines can significantly reduce the disease’s development.


Infection from the start (Acute HIV)

Within two to four weeks of the virus entering the body, some HIV patients experience a flu-like sickness. Primary (acute) HIV infection is a short-term disease that might last a few weeks. Fever is one of the possible indications and symptoms.

  • Headache
  • Muscle and joints pain
  • Rash
  • Painful oral sores and a sore throat
  • Lymph glands swollen, mostly in the neck
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of weight
  • Cough
  • Sweats at night

You might not even notice these symptoms since they are so minor. The amount of virus in your bloodstream (viral load) is, however, extremely high right now.

Infection that is clinically latent (Chronic HIV)

Many people, however, may not experience any symptoms or illnesses during this period.

If you aren’t on antiretroviral treatment, this period can persist for years (ART). Some people acquire a more severe form of the disease more sooner than others.

HIV infection with symptoms

You may develop minor infections or persistent signs and symptoms as the virus continues to proliferate and kill your immune cells – the cells in your body that help fight pathogens.

  • Fever \Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes are one of the most common early symptoms of HIV infection.
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of weight
  • Yeast infection in the mouth (thrush)
  • Pneumonia

AIDS-like illness

Most persons with HIV in the United States now do not acquire AIDS as a result of improved antiviral medications. HIV usually progresses to AIDS in 8 to 10 years if left untreated.

When you get AIDS, your immune system is seriously harmed. You’ll be more susceptible to opportunistic infections and malignancies, which are illnesses that would not normally cause sickness in someone with a robust immune system.

Some of these illnesses may cause the following signs and symptoms:

  • Sweats\Chills
  • Fever that keeps coming back
  • Diarrhea that persists
  • Lymph glands swollen
  • On your tongue or in your mouth, persistent white patches or odd lesions
  • Fatigue that persists despite a lack of explanation
  • Weakness
  • Loss of weight
  • Rashes or bumps on the skin


A virus is responsible for the transmission of HIV. It can be passed from mother to kid by sexual contact or blood, or during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding.

How can HIV progress to AIDS?

HIV kills CD4 T cells, which are white blood cells that assist your body fight illness. Your immune system grows weaker as your CD4 T cells decrease.

You can have an HIV infection for years with little or no symptoms before it progresses to AIDS. When your CD4 T cell count drops below 200 or you get an AIDS-defining complication, such as a severe infection or malignancy, you are diagnosed with AIDS.

The spread of HIV

  • By engaging in sexual activity. The virus can enter your body through mouth sores or tiny rips that occur during sexual intercourse in the rectum or vagina.
  • By exchanging needles, for example. Sharing tainted IV drug accessories raises your risk of getting HIV and other infectious diseases like as hepatitis.
  • Blood transfusions are to blame. The virus can be spread through blood transfusions in rare circumstances.
  • Breast-feeding or throughout pregnancy or delivery. HIV-positive mothers who get treatment for the virus during pregnancy can greatly reduce the danger to their unborn children.

How can HIV not spread?

HIV infection cannot be contracted through normal interaction. HIV cannot be transmitted by the air, water, or insect bites.

Factors that are at risk

HIV/AIDS may infect anyone of any age, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. However, you’re most likely to contract HIV/AIDS if you:

Have sex that isn’t protected. Every time you have sex, use a fresh latex or polyurethane condom. If you have numerous sexual partners, your HIV risk rises.

Have a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Many sexually transmitted infections (STIs) cause open sores on your genitals. These lesions serve as entry points for bacteria.


HIV infection lowers your immune system, making you more susceptible to infections and malignancies of many sorts.

HIV/AIDS-related infections

Pneumocystis pneumonia

It is a kind of pneumonia caused by the bacteria Pneumocystis (PCP). This fungal infection has the potential to cause serious disease. PCP remains the most prevalent cause of pneumonia in HIV-positive persons in the United States, despite the fact that it has decreased considerably with current HIV/AIDS medications.


It is a parasitic infection that affects humans (thrush). Candidiasis is an HIV-related infection that is quite prevalent. It causes swelling and a thick, white coating in your lips, tongue, throat, and vaginal area.

Tuberculosis is a kind of tuberculosis that affects (TB). TB is the most prevalent opportunistic infection linked with HIV in resource-poor countries.


The herpes simplex virus is spread by bodily fluids such as saliva, blood, urine, sperm, and breast milk.


It is caused by Cryptococci bacteria. A fungus found in the soil causes Cryptococci meningitis, a frequent central nervous system illness linked to HIV.


Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite carried largely by cats, causes this potentially fatal illness. Infected cats transmit parasites in their feces, which can subsequently be passed on to other animals including people.

HIV/AIDS-related cancers


Painless swelling of the lymph nodes in your neck, armpit, or groin is the most frequent early symptom.

Kaposi’s sarcoma

It is a kind of cancer. The lesions may seem dark brown or black in persons with darker skin.

Other issues to consider

When HIV/AIDS is left untreated, it can lead to substantial weight loss, as well as diarrhea, persistent weakness, and fever.

Complications of the nervous system. Confusion, amnesia, sadness, anxiety, and trouble walking are some of the neurological symptoms that HIV can induce. HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) can range in severity from minor behavioral changes and decreased mental function to severe dementia that causes weakness and inability to operate.

Kidney disease. HIVAN is an inflammation of the small filters in your kidneys that remove excess fluid and toxins from your blood and transfer them to your urine. It mostly affects individuals of color, particularly black and Hispanic people.

The illness of the liver. Liver illness is a significant consequence, particularly in those who have hepatitis B or C.


There is no treatment for AIDS and no vaccination to prevent HIV infection. You can, however, keep yourself and others safe from illness.

Prevention of HIV transmission:

Use therapy as a preventative measure (TasP).

If you have HIV, taking antiretroviral medicine can prevent your partner from contracting the infection. You won’t be able to spread the virus to others if your viral load remains undetectable – a blood test shows no virus. Using TasP entails taking your medicine exactly as directed and visiting your doctor on a regular basis.

If you’ve been exposed to HIV, you should take post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)

Contact your doctor or go to the emergency room if you suspect you’ve been exposed through sex, needles, or at work. Taking PEP as soon as possible, ideally within the first 72 hours, will drastically lower your chances of contracting HIV. You must take the medicine for a total of 28 days.

Every time you have sex, use a fresh condom

Every time you have anal or vaginal intercourse, use a fresh condom. A female condom can be used by women. Make sure the lubricant you’re using is water-based. Condoms can be weakened and broken by oil-based lubricants. Use a no lubricated, cut-open condom or a dental dam — a piece of medical-grade paper — during oral sex.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis should be considered (PrEP)

Emtricitabine plus tenofovir and emtricitabine plus tenofovir alafenamide (Descovy) are two medication combinations that can lower the risk of sexually transmitted HIV infection in persons who are at high risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, PrEP can lower your risk of contracting HIV through intercourse by more than 90% and from injectable drug use by more than 70%. Descovy hasn’t been examined in receptive vaginal sex persons.

Only if you do not already have an HIV infection will your doctor give these medicines for HIV prevention. Before prescribing Truvada, our doctor will evaluate your kidney function and repeat the test every six months.

You must take the medications on a daily basis. They won’t protect you from other STIs, so you’ll still need to be careful with your sex. Before starting treatment for hepatitis B, you should be examined by an infectious disease or liver expert.

If you have HIV, tell your sexual partners

It’s critical to inform every one of your current and previous sexual partners that you have HIV. They’ll have to be put to the test.

Make sure you’re using a fresh needle

If you inject drugs using a needle, make sure it’s sanitary and don’t share it. Make use of needle exchange services in your neighborhood. Consider getting assistance if you’re addicted to drugs.

If you’re expecting a child, get medical attention immediately away

If you have HIV, it’s possible that you’ll pass it on to your child. However, if you get therapy while you’re pregnant, you can lower your baby’s risk considerably.

Consider the practice of male circumcision

There is evidence that male circumcision can lower the risk of contracting HIV.

What Is the Distinction Between HIV & AIDS?

When you get HIV, you don’t get AIDS right away. You can live with HIV (be HIV+) for years without showing any symptoms or with just mild-to-moderate symptoms. People living with HIV who take their HIV medications as directed have an extremely low chance of developing AIDS. However, if HIV is not treated, most people’s immune systems will be worn down to the point where they have few CD4 cells and acquire opportunistic infections.

Before there was an effective HIV therapy, the concept of AIDS was defined. It meant that a person was at a higher risk of getting sick or dying. AIDS is no longer as significant as it once was in nations where HIV therapy is widely available. This is because people can stay healthy even if their CD4 levels are low if they have access to appropriate HIV therapy. Also, someone might have been diagnosed with AIDS years ago, but their immune system has subsequently healed. They may still have that diagnosis, but their CD4 count is no longer low.

If you have HIV plus one or both of these symptoms, you have AIDS, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

  • At least one AIDS-related ailment (see our list of AIDS-Defining Conditions)
  • A CD4 cell count of fewer than 200 cells (a normal CD4 count is about 500 to 1,500)

With the aid of HIV medicines, people with AIDS can restore their immune systems and live a long, healthy life. You may still be diagnosed with AIDS even if your CD4 cell count rises over 200 if an OI is effectively treated. This does not indicate you are ill or will get ill in the future. It’s basically how the public health system keeps track of how many people have advanced HIV illness.

Is it necessary for me to be tested for HIV?

According to the CDC, around 15% of HIV-positive persons in the United States are unaware that they have the infection. Many of these folks appear to be in good condition and do not believe they are in danger. However, HIV may infect anyone of any age, gender, color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, social group, or economic status. Humans may make decisions based on these criteria, but the virus does not. See our fact sheet on HIV transmission for more information.

Answer the following questions to discover if you need to get tested for HIV:

Have you ever had a penis put into your vaginal or anus (“butt”), or had oral intercourse without the use of a condom or other rubber barrier (e.g., dental dam)? It’s worth noting that oral sex is a low-risk activity. The danger of vaginal and anal intercourse is significantly higher.

Do you have no idea if your spouse has HIV or if he or she is infected?

Are you expecting a child or thinking about starting a family?

Have you ever experienced a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or a sexually transmitted disease (STD)?

you have been diagnosed with hepatitis C virus (HCV)?

Have you ever shared needles, syringes, or other injecting equipment (including steroids or hormones) with someone else?

You should obtain an HIV test if you responded yes to any of these questions. Everyone in the United States between the ages of 13 and 64 should get tested for HIV at least once.

When you have HIV, you must eat well.

Although there is no special dietary plan for those living with HIV, a good diet, in general, may greatly benefit your health.

Your immune system is weakened by the infection. Eating healthily can help you fight illnesses since your body utilizes nutrition to maintain its defenses against germs. It can also help you feel more energized, stay strong, avoid health concerns, and cope with the side effects of HIV and its therapies.

To get started, follow these easy guidelines.

1. Consume a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

They’re strong in antioxidants, which help to protect your immune system. Filling half of your plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal is a simple approach to achieve that objective. To acquire the most vitamins and minerals, eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.

2. Opt for a lean protein source

It helps your body grow muscle and maintain a healthy immune system. Lean beef, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, and nuts are all good choices.

If you’re underweight or have HIV at a later stage, you may need to eat extra protein. Your doctor can assist you in determining the appropriate dosage for you.

3. Choose whole grains over refined grains

Carbs provide energy to your body in the same way as gasoline does to an automobile.

As a result, whole-grain carbohydrates like brown rice and whole wheat bread are considered premium fuel.

They’re high in fiber and energy-boosting B vitamins. And eating a high-fiber diet might reduce your risk of developing fat deposits known as lipodystrophy, an HIV-related side effect.

4. Consume sugar and salt in moderation

HIV increases your risk of heart disease, whether it’s due to the infection or the therapy medicines you’re taking. Sugar and salt in excess might damage your digestive system. As a result, strive to consume fewer than 10% of your daily calories from sugary foods and beverages. There should be no more than 2,300 mg of s in your system.

5. Healthy fats should be consumed in moderation

Fat is a source of energy, but it also contains a lot of calories. Limit how much you eat if you’re not aiming to gain weight. Nuts, vegetable oils, and avocado are all heart-healthy options.

6. Consult your doctor if you’re having difficulties with your diet or weight

HIV medicines, as well as the infection itself, can cause food and weight-related problems. Discuss them with your doctor, including the following frequent ones:

  • Appetite loss is common. Unwanted weight loss can damage your body, therefore consuming adequate calories is critical. More energy-dense meals, such as peanut butter or other nut butters, may be required. According to Kristen F. Gradney, director of nutrition and metabolic services at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, a higher-calorie shake or smoothie is an excellent alternative.
  • Nausea. If some foods make you feel nauseous, you may need to eat smaller portions more frequently rather than three large meals each day. According to Gradney, crackers are easy on the stomach for the majority of individuals. Combine them with a protein source, such as peanut butter. If simply the scent of cooking makes you sick, you should have someone else prepare your meal for you.
  • Problems with the mouth. Do you have trouble swallowing or suffer from mouth sores? So that your veggies aren’t hard and crunchy, cook them gently. Avoid meals that are hot or acidic, and rinse your mouth with water before and after eating.

7. Consume the appropriate number of calories

If you’re experiencing unwelcome weight loss, your doctor may suggest a nutritional supplement. People with HIV, on the other hand, frequently carry too much weight. Obesity or being overweight might increase your risk of long-term illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and several cancers. Furthermore, it may weaken your immune system; recent research discovered evidence of this in obese HIV patients compared to those who were at a healthy weight.

8. Drink a lot of water

The majority of individuals do not drink enough water. Throughout the day, drink at least eight to ten glasses of water or other nutritious beverages. Liquids aid in the transport of nutrients and the elimination of unused medicines from the body. They can also help you stay hydrated and boost your energy levels. If you get diarrhea or are nauseous, you’ll need to drink more, according to Gradney.

9. Obey all food safety regulations

“Even a slight episode of food poisoning can progress to a major infection or sickness,” Gradney adds because HIV weakens your body’s defenses against microorganisms.

Make the following healthy behaviors a part of your daily routine:

  • Before and after eating, wash your hands with soap and water. After each usage, wash cutting boards and cutlery.
  • Raw eggs should be avoided. Cook all meats, fish, and poultry until fully cooked.
  • Refrigerate or microwave frozen meats and other items to thaw.
  • Cleanly rinse all fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Check expiry dates and discard any food that seems to be expired.
  • Before eating leftovers, reheat them thoroughly.
  • If you’re going overseas and aren’t sure if the water is safe to drink, consume bottled water instead of ice and unpasteurized beverages.

Why Is a Healthy Diet Important for HIV Patients?

Good nutrition is crucial for everyone, whether or not they have HIV. However, several symptoms associated with HIV or AIDS treatment (such as wasting, diarrhea, and lipid abnormalities) make appropriate nutrition critical for HIV patients. Maintaining strength, vitality, and a strong immune system requires proper nutrition. Food safety and appropriate cleanliness are also issues when it comes to avoiding infections because HIV can induce immune suppression.

Maintaining excellent health throughout your life requires a nutritious diet. A healthy diet, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), comprises enough of each important nutrient, a variety of foods from all of the fundamental food categories, sufficient energy to maintain a healthy weight, and no excess fat, sugar, salt, or alcohol. There are six nutrients that are required for life:

  • Protein helps to develop muscles and maintain a healthy immune system.
  • Carbohydrates (such as sugars and starches) provide energy.
  • Extra energy is provided by fat.
  • Water provides cells their structure and serves as a medium for bodily functions to take place.

What Food Safety Do You Need to Know?

You may be more susceptible to food-borne disease if you have HIV since it impairs your immune system. So, in addition to eating healthily, you must eat in a safe manner. You can protect yourself against foodborne disease by following a few simple safety guidelines when preparing and eating your meals:

  • Raw eggs, meats, and seafood (including sushi and oysters/shellfish) should all be avoided.
  • Fresh Fruits and vegetables
  • Raw meats should be sliced on a separate cutting board.
  • After each usage, wash hands, utensils, and cutting boards with soap and water.
  • Water safety is critical since it may carry a wide range of parasites, germs, and viruses

Here are some tips to help you stay safe from these infections:

  • Lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams should not be consumed.
  • You may filter your drinking water with a store-bought water filter at home.
  • By drinking and cooking with only boiling water, you can greatly minimize your chance of contracting a water-borne disease.
  • Drink only bottled water and avoid ice or unpasteurized juices and beverages while travelling overseas in regions where sanitation is poor or water safety is unknown.

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