As we age, our health needs change. This is even more the case for folks living with chronic infections such as HIV.
Aging With HIV
Aging with HIV brings a different set of health conditions to be aware of. If you are over 55+ and living with HIV, have a conversation with you provider (if you haven’t already) about any increased risks and the steps you can take to invest in your prolonged health. (CDC estimates 26% of the population living with HIV are over 55.)
When HIV attacks the immune systems it causes a state of increased inflammation because the immune system is revved up to fight the virus. HIV medication adherence will reduce the inflammation, but the inflammation levels will still be higher than in bodies without HIV.
Long-term inflammation potentially increases risks for other conditions. These conditions include, but aren’t limited to cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer (ex. lymphoma, rectal/anal, colon), and kidney disease.
Why these? The answer isn’t known for all, but theory traces to the impact of the inflammation. For instance, cardiovascular disease it is believed that increased inflammation affects your coronary valves leading to a higher risk for cardiovascular disease.
Take An Active Role In Your Health.
If you aren’t already, get active with your health – this includes attending regular health provider appointments and staying consistent with your medication. Initiate a discussion with your provider about cancer screenings you should do and what vaccinations you need. Additionally, these are doctor recommended steps – that won’t surprise you, but they do have a positive impact.
- Quit Smoking – if you’re ready to quit smoking consider contact the Texas Quit Line at 1-877-937-7848 or visit yesquit.org. They’re available 24/7 with cessation counselors and provide nicotine replacement therapy.
- Maintain Physical Activity – a good goal is 20minute cardio workouts 3x/week. Consider evening/morning walks solo or with a walking group. If you want to beat the heat/weather, consider a fitness center like the YMCA or a nearby rec center. Many have programs for individuals over 55.
- Maintain Healthy Diet – consuming a well balanced diet will provide you numerous health benefits. Like an engine, providing sufficient fuel leads to success. In case time is one of your barriers to maintaining a healthy diet, check out this delicious, fast, & easy recipe:
Watermelon, Mint, & Feta Salad Recipe
3 c. cubed seedless watermelon
1/4 cup chopped mint
3 T lime juice
3/4 c crumbled feta cheese
1/4 t. salt (optional)
Mix watermelon, mint, and lime juice together. Crumble feta cheese over top and mix together.