Making positive changes to your lifestyle can help you stay healthier for longer, whether you are newly diagnosed or have lived with HIV for many years. This section provides information, tips and advice for women about sex, starting a family (if you’re thinking about this), the menopause and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Use the menu bar or click on the boxes below to find out what you can do to take care of your health.
PROPORTION OF PEOPLE WITH HIV WHO COULD BE VITAMIN D INSUFFICIENT
Even into your late 20s, you can add to your peak bone mass. People living with HIV can be at a greater risk of osteoporosis. So the more bone mass you build up now, the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis later in life. Calcium and vitamin D are vital to maintain strong bones. They can be obtained through oily fish, dairy products and egg yolk. Speak to your doctor if you are concerned about your Vitamin D levels.
THE TIME IN BETWEEN YOUR CERVICAL SMEAR TESTS
In your 20s you should start having routine smear tests, which screen for cervical cancer. It is recommended that you have one at least every three years. Some women may require them as frequently as annually. Ask your doctor for advice.
AGE TO FALL IN LOVE WITH STRENGTH TRAINING
Moderate exercise on a regular basis is good for your immune system and overall health. Your 20s are primary strength-training years. Strength training increases lean muscle mass, boosts metabolism and burns calories. Don’t be too scared to lift weights!
Depending on what HIV treatment you take, you may need to be extra cautious when using the morning after pill. Some HIV drugs can reduce the efficacy of emergency contraception. Therefore, women who find themselves in a situation requiring them to prevent pregnancy should ask their doctor about the best options available.
Today, women can expect to have healthy pregnancies, if their HIV and general health are well managed. The risk of a mother transmitting HIV to her baby is greatly reduced if the mother is on effective treatment and has an undetectable viral load. It is important to have a discussion with your doctor if you want to become a mother. They can ensure that you are on the most appropriate treatment and that you and your baby are safe.
STARTS TO CHANGE
As you age your metabolism slows down. The body requires less energy and the body starts to store more body fat and less muscle mass. HIV can contribute to metabolic changes too which can increase the risk of heart disease. Lifestyle changes such as changing your diet and exercise routine can reduce your risks. If you have any concerns speak to your doctor.
AVERAGE CALORIES INTAKE A WOMAN NEEDS A DAY
Within a healthy, balanced diet, a woman needs around 2,000 calories a day. These values can vary depending on age, metabolism and levels of physical activity, among other things. Some women may experience HIV associated weight-gain.
What you can do:
• Eat a well-balanced diet
• Take moderate, regular exercise
Smoking is the largest avoidable health risk in Europe. People living with HIV are at a higher risk of developing health complications if they smoke and this risk increases with age. If you haven’t already, consider stopping now. Speak to your doctor for help and advice on stopping.
Everyone living with HIV, regardless of age, should receive a flu jab as the risk of developing serious flu and related complications can be higher. Speak to your doctor about annual vaccines.
TO YOUR CHILDREN ABOUT HIV
You may wish to tell your children about your HIV status. The choice is individual to you. Speak to your doctor for guidance on how to tell your children.
WOMEN LIVING WITH HIV MAY BE MORE AT RISK
At any age women living with HIV may experience mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and poor sleep. It is important to discuss any changes to your mental health with your doctor, who can offer support.
The risk of type 2 diabetes increases for women in their 40s regardless of HIV status. The risk is also higher for people living with HIV. It is good to plan ahead to reduce your future risks. Ask your doctor for your blood glucose results and talk to them about lifestyle changes you can make.
LITRES OF WATER A DAY
The kidneys have several functions - removing waste products and excess water, helping control your blood pressure, producing hormones and balancing the minerals in your body. Looking after them is important for your overall health. Women should aim to drink 2 litres of water per day. Some but not all HIV drugs can increase the risks of kidney disease. Speak to your doctor about your kidney test results.
It is important to let your doctor know if you are taking any over the counter medications. Your doctor can check for any potential unwanted interactions with your HIV medications.
2ND MOST COMMON CAUSE OF CANCER DEATH IN THE GENERAL EUROPEAN POPULATION
Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in Europe, regardless of HIV status. Speak to your doctor about colorectal screening, which is recommended for everyone over the age of 50.
OF EUROPEANS HAVE RAISED CHOLESTEROL
Europe has the highest prevalence of elevated cholesterol in the world, regardless of HIV status, which is a major cause of heart disease and stroke. HIV itself and some treatments can also increase cholesterol. The risk of stroke and heart disease is further increased if you smoke and have high blood pressure. Speak to your doctor about your cholesterol blood test results.
After the menopause, the risk of osteoporosis increases. This is because there is a direct relationship between the lack of oestrogen during the menopause and the development of osteoporosis. People living with HIV can be at an increased risk of losing bone mass so it’s good to be aware from a younger age. Make sure your daily calcium and vitamin D intake is adequate and speak to your doctor about the best way to monitor and manage your bone health.
THE NUMBER OF FUNCTIONS THE LIVER PERFORMS
As you age the liver becomes less active and less efficient at managing food and chemicals. Damage to the liver can occur more quickly if you are co-infected with hepatitis C virus or drink too much alcohol. Visit www.HIVisJustapartofme.eu to find out more about preventing co-infections and ask your doctor about your liver test results.
MOST COMMON SLEEPING POSITIONS: SIDE, BACK AND STOMACH
Sleeping patterns often change as you get older. Getting too little sleep can increase your risk for certain
health problems. If you are having problems sleeping, speak to your doctor for help and advice.
THE AGE TO BE SCREENED FOR BREAST CANCER
Living with HIV does not put you at an increased risk of breast cancer, but all women should still be screened for breast cancer from the age of 50.
AGE WHEN BLOOD PRESSURE RISK INCREASES
Typically, blood pressure increases with age and risks begins to climb when women hit their mid-60s. This can be accelerated by some HIV treatments, smoking, obesity and too much salt, increasing the risks of heart attack or stroke. Visit www.HIVisJustapartofme.eu for healthy living tips and speak to your doctor about how to reduce your risks.
IN YOUR OLDER YEARS
Many people living with HIV in older years are happy with their quality of life. Keeping active, socialising
and joining clubs or groups can improve well-being and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.
WEIGHT LOSS, DECREASED PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND STRENGTH, AND LOWER ENERGY
These are all a natural part of ageing. To maintain a good quality of life, discuss your nutritional needs and ways of keeping active with your healthcare team.
NEARLY EVERYONE WILL NEED GLASSES OR LENSES BY THIS AGE
Having regular eye tests, wearing the right lenses and looking after your eyes gives you a better chance of your sight remaining clear. This will improve your quality of life and reduce the risk of accidents such as falls which can lead to bone fractures. Ask your optician how regularly your eyes should be tested.
Remember, you are not alone. If you have any questions or concerns you can always speak to your healthcare team. To help you find out how you can plan for your next appointment and helpful questions to ask, go to What To Ask for tips and downloadable questions.