Living with HIV/AIDS Infection
Being HIV-positive doesn't mean you have AIDS or that you will become seriously ill soon. But you are in a fight to protect your immune system. You'll need a doctor who'll be there for you every step of the way. A case manager at TAN can assist you in finding the right doctor and services you need living with HIV/AIDS infection.
Find a doctor who makes you feel comfortable, is knowledgeable about HIV, and will help you understand everything about your condition. - If you don't have insurance and can't afford medical care, check the with the Texas Department of Human Services about Medicaid and other state programs that may help pay for the cost of your care.
I don't feel unhealthy, so why should I see a doctor?
Your doctor will test your body's immune system with a test called a CD4/CD8 count. This test will help your doctor decide if and when to begin any needed treatments.
You may need to receive vaccines to prevent other infections such as the flu.
You need to be tested for tuberculosis (TB).
Women should receive regular gynecological exams and pap smears. Women who are HIV positive often suffer from recurrent gynecological problems such as yeast infections and pelvic inflammatory disease.
Your doctor can tell you how to avoid infections that could hurt or weaken your immune system.
How can I avoid minor infections?
Germs in the form of bacteria, viruses or parasites can be anywhere in our environment. We can't avoid them all but we can take precautions.
Try to keep your kitchen and bathroom as clean as possible.
Avoid spreading infection: always use disposable and separate cleaning materials for kitchen and bath. Wash hands often. You may want to use pump soap, not bar soap, and paper towels for drying hands. And, as usual, don't share a towel, washcloth, shaving equipment, or toothbrush.
Make sure you talk to your doctor before receiving vaccines.
Many vaccines, such as those for measles, typhoid, and a type of polio, contain live viruses. Your doctor will know which vaccines are right for you.
Cleaning up after your pet.
If you clean up after your pet yourself, you might come in contact with bacteria or parasites that could cause infections. So if you can, ask a friend to clean up after your dog or cat. If you must clean up after your pet, use a mask and disposable gloves.
Raw food is a problem for people with HIV.
Detailed cleaning or peeling of raw vegetables and fruit, and adequate cooking of meat, poultry, and fish destroys bacteria and parasites. Don't eat raw fish (sushi), raw beef (steak tartar), Caesar salad (raw egg), or other foods containing undercooked egg products, all-day salad bars, and any food that even looks like it might be a problem.
Avoiding infection isn't the only thing you can do.
Every day, more and more people are learning to live with HIV. They've found that proper diet, moderate exercise, stress management, and early medical intervention can help. And now, treatments are available that can help keep you healthier longer. Remember, being HIV-positive means caring for yourself.