CARING ABOUT YOUR HEALTH AND NEW LIFESTYLE


Self-Care

Self-Care

One of the important pillars for successful HIV treatment is self-care. In this section you will find information on some important changes you should make, which, in combination with the treatment, will help you to achieve good results in taking care of your health.

At the comprehensive care clinic you will find specialized staff who can help you by extending this information and incorporating these changes into your lifestyle.

Living healthily is possible if you decide to take control … shall we begin?

 

 

 

 

Health is an integral concept because it refers to the balance of mind and body. Sometimes we worry a great deal about the health of our bodies and we overlook our emotional health which is essential to quality of life.

Emotional well-being includes: tranquility, maintaining good spirits and managing emotions well.

Thinking positively and feeling joy, optimism and hope affects our way of living and keeps us healthy since there is a close relation between negative emotions and some diseases.

Emotional health gives us better self-esteem, it improves sleep problems, and it also maintains strong defenses and helps us manage stress better.

How can you work on your emotional health every day?

  • Sleep well.
  • Eat healthfully and get exercise.
  • Learn to express your feelings properly.
  • Always try to see the positive side of things.
  • Get support from a professional when you feel that you can’t cope with your problems alone.
  • Live in the present.
  • Give yourself time to enjoy being with others and laughing with those you love.

Do not forget that in this process you are going through it is important to accept and ask for help. In the comprehensive care clinic or outside of it there is always someone there when you need them.


How can I share the diagnosis?

How can I share the diagnosis?

Knowing when the best time is and how to share the news with your family, partner or people close to you is a concern common to many people after being diagnosed.

It is important to take into account that although we often feel anxious to talk to someone about what we feel and what is happening to us, making impulsive decisions can have undesirable consequences in this process.

Not everyone has information about the virus and even if they do have some information, they may not always be prepared to deal with news like this. So it is important to evaluate certain aspects and consider the pros and cons of sharing your diagnosis with other people.

In order to better manage this very important step, take into account the following recommendations:

Before sharing your news:

  • Think hard about why you want them to know.
  • Evaluate the pros and cons of telling them.
  • Find out beforehand what information they have, what they think about the virus and people who have it.
  • Prepare the ground by sharing information you already have, especially when you see that they are mistaken.
  • Prepare for reactions by trying to think how they will react.
  • Work on your own feelings and beliefs about living with HIV, what you feel and think is what you will ultimately transmit.
  • Write down what you want to tell them in advance.
  • Determine whether you need support from the doctor, psychologist, counselor or hospital representative at the comprehensive care clinic.

When you share it:

  • Although there is no perfect place and time, make sure that when you share the news, your family or partner is not going through a crisis, or that you are sick or that the person is upset with you In this way, you will prevent a negative reaction from being triggered.
  • Explain in simple terms what you feel, why it is important for you to share it with them, and, specifically, what you need support with.
  • Reassure them that you are well and that they should not be distressed because you are already receiving treatment.
  • Let them express what they feel about the news.

After sharing it:

  • Give them time to understand and assimilate the news.
  • Understand that although they are not experiencing the diagnosis themselves, they also need time to accept what is happening.
  • Offer to answer any questions they may have.
  • Allow them and invite them to accompany you to the clinic. In this way they can see the place where you’re receiving care and resolve any doubts with specialized personnel.
  • Demonstrate with your actions that you can take control of your own health and that you are able to get ahead and be responsible for your treatment.

 


Food

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A balanced diet is one that includes the right amounts of food from all food groups.

Often, after diagnosis, we are concerned about what kind of changes we should make in our diet and what vitamins we can take, as well as having the perception that following the nutritionist’s recommendations will involve eating less or spending more money on food.

Here are some myths about food.

1. I can decide on my own diet: False, it is important for you to know that the help of a professional nutritionist is necessary. The nutritionist will prepare a diet according to what your body needs in order to be well. Improving your diet doesn’t mean that you need to stop eating. A key element is to know how to combine foods better.

2. People with HIV must follow a special diet: False, healthy eating habits are necessary changes for all people regardless of whether they are living with the virus or not. There are many health problems associated with poor diet, such as type 2 diabetes, triglyceride and cholesterol problems, cardiovascular problems, uric acid, and although there is a genetic component to colon cancer, it is also associated with a diet deficient in natural fiber (vegetables and fruits).

3. You need to take vitamins to stay healthy: True, vitamins are important for the body. However, the best vitamins we can take can be found in what we eat, so it is important to select the type of food we consume.

4. Dieting means to stop eating: False, in general nutrition professionals, rather than encouraging people “to stop eating or to eat less” strive to change habits, improve the quality of what we eat, and make the changes permanent, so it is more than just losing weight. Eating well can be delicious and make us feel better.

It is important to visit a professional nutritionist to make an assessment of your weight and establish with you the steps you should follow in relation to your diet and an exercise plan to improve your health.

It is also important to pay attention to hygiene during food preparation, cooking time to avoid the risk of intestinal infections due to inadequate handling, and hygiene when preparing food. For this reason, it is advisable to avoid eating out, and avoid fast food which is high in fat, salt and sugar. Your diet should also be complemented with daily physical activity.

Changes require time and perseverance but you can reach your goal if you decide to work hard at it.

Shall we begin now?


Sexuality

Sexuality

Sexual life is one of the most affected areas of life after diagnosis. Many people, after finding out that they are living with HIV, decide not to have more partners or find that they cannot enjoy their sex life in the same way. This is normal and gradually as the person accepts his/her condition and is informed about it, the fear disappears.

You may have decided not to have sex for the time being, or perhaps you are already at a time at which you are feeling better and are ready to resume your sex life. It is important not to forget the following recommendations:

1.  A condom is a barrier to avoid transmission of HIV during sexual intercourse. Latex condoms do not allow the passage of a single molecule of water, which is even smaller than the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), so this demonstrates its prevention capacity.

2. A condom may become less effective if not used and put on properly. It is essential to use one in every time you have sex.

3. Some people consider that if their partner is living with the virus, it is not necessary to protect themselves; this is false. Since the virus behaves differently in each organism, having contact with a different virus to the one already present and allowing it to enter your body, would cause what doctors call re-infection. Reinfection triggers a rapid advance of the virus and further health deterioration.

Sometimes there is a possibility of contact with people and we do not know if they are living with HIV, so this risk is possible if not using a condom. It is also important to remember that condom use prevents other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as papillomas, syphilis, hepatitis B, which combined with HIV can put your health and your life at risk.

Using a condom can become exciting and interesting. Ask the comprehensive care clinic personnel where you can access them and who can advise you on their correct use.

Living with HIV does not limit you from fully enjoying your sex life. Using a condom will allow you to enjoy it safely and responsibly.

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Safe sexual practices

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As we have discussed, the barrier method to reduce STIs and for HIV positive people to reduce the risk of re-infection is the condom.

It is important to recognize that there are a variety of practices or behaviors that may put us at greater or lesser risk during sexual intercourse.

Let’s learn about some safe sex practices:

  • Making out: hugs, kisses, caresses, massages without reaching penetration.
  • Mutual masturbation without entering into contact with the other person’s body fluids (vaginal fluids, semen, blood) or mucous membranes (genital, anus, mouth).
  • Use of sex toys without exchanging the same toy with another person.
  • Use of sex toys covered with a condom, different for each person, if they are to be exchanged.
  • Oral sex with condom or latex barrier in case of oral, vaginal or anal sex.
  • Vaginal penetration with a preservative.
  • Anal sex with lubrication and condom.

It is important to keep in mind that safe practice also includes getting a test with your partner, monogamy, which means having sexual contact with a single partner and being faithful, as well as not mixing alcohol and drugs with sexual relations since under the effect of certain substances, we lose control of the responsibility to protect ourselves.

 


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Self-Care

1. Can emotions affect my health?

Yes, our bodies and emotions are linked so when your emotions are affected, your body may also show discomfort.

2. How do emotions affect me if I am HIV positive?

When you are unhappy, it’s difficult to function well. Emotions affect sleep and appetite, which may cause you to get sick. Emotions and stress can also cause your defenses to drop.

How can I share the diagnosis?

1. Is it compulsory to share my diagnosis?

Sharing the diagnosis is a personal decision. There are certain circumstances that make it important to share, for instance, informing your partner who may require medical attention.

2. Am I obliged to tell my partner?

Yes, it is more than just a question of responsibility, it is a legal requirement that the person must communicate the information about their situation to his/her partner or partners, whether they are stable or occasional partners, because they may be at risk of acquiring the virus and if they need treatment, they have the right to receive it just like you.