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Working Out With HIV/AIDS and trying to focus on living life
Feb 6, 2014

Hi, I was wondering about working out with HIV. I've been pos since probably late 90's and a history of crypto meningitis in 2005. I am also a MC veteran so I have received a lot of counseling. When I was admitted in the hospital my cd4 was 102 and my viral load was 750,000. I was pretty close to the other side from what they told my family. I was also about 165 pounds down from my normal 210. Since then I have begun to focus on my cognitive skills, writing and staying busy. A couple years ago my blood work came back fine but my BP was high as well as my Tri's. So, I started working out on the suggestion of my docs. After a while it became somewhat addictive and I regained my weight and strength. I am up to about 4 miles a day on the treadmill and using weights but going easy as far as they go. I'm 50 but people at the gym say I am in great shape especially for my age. I did stay pretty active throughout my life and surfed a lot when I was younger. My last check on my BP was 117/78 and dropped dramatically.

So, my question is: am I going about things correctly as far as that goes and I know the group therapies are supposed to help but when ever I went it seemed too damn depressing for me. It seemed like the other HIV pos people were too focused on the disease and not about living their lives. I choose to be around people who aren't positive just so I can live like person who has no barriers. I feel like we as HIV positives tend to stigmatize ourselves by identifying who we are by the illness itself. Any advice appreciated.

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Hello and thanks for writing! Your focused work at physical recovery is impressive and the results are clearly evident. As you probably intuitively know, such physical exercise is really good for emotions and mood as well. People just feel better when they are active and working out.

I agree that it is a trap for people living with the virus to identify themselves only in terms of HIV. We are people of all sizes, ages, shapes, and colors who happen to have a virus. Of course, the impact is on our lives is significant and we are reminded of our status every day when we take our meds. More than ever before, however, we have an opportunity to live our lives fully. I ask my clients about their purpose and their goals (many haven't thought about it before). Studies show that having such a focus results in better health outcomes.

That said, I hope you can find groups that do indeed focus on living, since participation in a group has also been shown to result in better health. We need to be connected who we connect to is a matter of choice.

Keep up the good work!

David



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