HIV and involuntary weight loss
The social pressure on weight is strong, especially now that people have much more exposure to the world through social media. It seems that we are all constantly trying to lose weight to look better in photographs or to wear fashionable clothes, but there is a circumstance in which weight loss is not positive, and that is when it is due to a health problem.
Unfortunately, the stereotype reigned for a long time that people with HIV lost a lot of weight, a situation that was true at the beginning of the epidemic, when there was no treatment against the virus.
With the advent of antiretroviral drugs, this has improved, but weight loss associated with infection may still occur under certain conditions.
Identify the cause
According to data from the specialized website aidsmap.com, losing 3% of your body weight involuntarily can significantly increase your chances of getting sick from an HIV-related complication.
When there is too much weight loss, it poses a health risk because it reduces the body’s ability to fight infection and recover. If this happens to you, the first step is to identify the cause of the weight loss, since this sign may indicate the presence of an opportunistic infection or some other complication. On the other hand, problems such as lack of appetite, anxiety or depression can also be causes of weight loss.
When you’re sick, loss of appetite is a common symptom, but remember that this is then that the body requires the most energy to heal. So good nutrition is very important to the recovery process.
Some nutrition recommendations when going through an illness process are:
- Make sure you always have nutritious food at home, it can be canned or frozen.
- When you’re not feeling well, eating small portions throughout the day can be easier than eating three large meals, and they’ll also be easier to prepare.
- Dairy products such as yogurt can be a good source of energy.
- Talk to your medical team to find out if they can give you a reliable nutritional supplement that does not interfere with your treatment.
If you have questions about what you should eat to better recover from an infection, ask your health staff for the best recommendations.
And remember that if you live with HIV but have not started or want to resume your treatment, at AHF Latin America and the Caribbean we can help you. Come to our offices in your country or write to us on Whatsapp.