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Facial Body Wasting
Apr 11, 2011

Hi, I have recently been diagnosed positive. My CD4 count is 670 and my viral load is around 1200. I have been told that I am healthy and there thought HIV is present, at present it has not damaged my body in any way. I barely had/have any signs and it has come as a bit of a shock as you can imagine. I am waiting to see a doctor for a full examination but it has been mentioned that it's unlikely I will to take meds for some years yet. This has been a major relief as I have obviously caught it early... however... I am absolutely terrified about wasting and looking like I am extremely sick.

I am a 29 year old healthy guy, I eat extremely well, exercises 5/6 times a week and I do not have an unhealthy life. I live in London so the support I have here is extremely good as well as the meds I will eventually receive. Are you abloe to give me any information on this? I am absolutely terrified I am soon going to start looking ill and gaunt. Just so scared what this all means. My health worker says it is not like it was 20 years ago and I am likely to live a relatively normal life span but as this is new... my thoughts are going haywire!

Best... C

Response from Mr. Vergel

I am sorry that you are going through the shock of finding out you are HIV+.

I am happy to tell you that the new medications used for HIV are a lot less likely to cause facial wasting (lipoatrophy), so I really would not worry about this if I was you.

Your goal now is to follow some basic health and wellness tips (most of them also apply to HIV negative people, by the way):

Do not smoke

If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation

If you are depressed, treat depression quickly with exercise, therapy, antidepressants, and a good support system

If you've never had hepatitis A or B, ask your doctor about getting vaccinated against them.

See a dentist twice a year. The first signs that your HIV infection is getting worse often appear in the mouth.

See your doctor every 3 months. This will allow your doctor to track changes in your viral load and T cell count. Talk to him or her about newer, more "side effect friendly" medicines.

It's important to avoid activation of the immune system. Treat any non-HIV illnesses you experience as soon as possible. These illnesses activate the immune system.

Get a Pneumovax every 5 years. Pneumovax is a vaccine against bacterial pneumonia.

Get HIV treatment if your T cells (or CD4s) are approaching 500 and/or if you have symptoms of immune deficiency. Take your meds on time to keep your viral load undetectable to remain healthy and to minimize the risk of infecting others

Exercise with weights/machines 34 times a week for an hour, and also do cardiovascular exercise (elliptical trainer, fast walking, light jogging, etc.) for at least 30 minutes a day after weight training. Make sure that you sweat!

Cut sugars, maximize good protein and good fats (olive oil and cold water fish), fruits and vegetables of all colors. Do not skip breakfast!

Take at least a multivitamin a day with meals.

Motivate yourself with a buddy, support group, and surround yourself with smart and up-beat people. Find your life purpose

Have nutrition-dense snacks available and never get too hungry or too thirsty. Examples are nuts, hard boiled eggs, lean meats, tuna, milk/cheese if you can tolerate it, whole grains. Minimize processed bleached flour and watch your sweets!

If you have to, use stimulants wisely and in moderation (coffee and green tea)

Get good quality sleep

Manage stress with relaxation techniques, hobbies, and learning to let go of anger and unrealistic expectations

Get a least 20 minutes a day of sunshine . Your body needs it to make Vitamin D for bone health.

Cut calories and fill yourself up with fruits, vegetables, grains, and lean meats. Eat small frequent meals.

If you ever feel fatigued and your sex drive is low, ask you doctor to check your hormone levels and your thyroid function since low levels of testosterone or thyroxin can make you prone to gaining more fat.

Get your lipids (cholesterol) and blood sugar under control with a healthy diet, regular exercise, and medicines if necessary.

I would also suggest you visit this great London's organization's web site for a lot more info and support:


Many people get a wake up call when they find out they are HIV+ and strive to get healthier. Others go into a self-destructive mode. Since you are already seeking help and reaching out, I bet you belong to the first group!

We are here to help you. You are not alone.


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