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Lipodystrophy and WastingLipodystrophy and Wasting
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early HIV and weight loss
Jan 3, 2000

Is there any reason that I should be unable to gain back the weight I lost after recently contracting HIV? I don't know for sure if the weight loss is from the virus; I have not been able to eat properly because of stress. If I start eating properly and lifting weights, should I be able to put weight back on?

Response from Dr. Dieterich

You ask a great question. A key here is what you mean by "early HIV". Usually, weight lss is fairly modest until T cell counts fall substantially (i.e. to less than 300 or so). Some people do lose a few pounds early, or (perhaps) a few pounds of muscle tissue, with replacement by fat.

If you are in this category, it should be possible for you to reagain your weight and strength. The main points that might help are: 1) Be sure to avoid weight-losing episodes during any brief illnesses (flu's, etc.)- this is how many people drift downward- by keeping up your intake during these periods; 2)Ask your doctor to check your testosterone level -- if it is low, you will have trouble gaining back muscle; 3)Execise should be of the "resistance" type (that is, weight lifting) not aerobic (running or biking). But resistance exercise is about the single best thing that you can do!

If everything is in place, you should be successful.

Good luck!

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