25 Things You Need to Do if You Have HIV
7. Get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including syphilis, gonorrhea, human papillomavirus (HPV), Chlamydia, and Trichomonas, and learn the signs and symptoms of STIs. Sexually active people, especially those with multiple partners, may need regular STI testing.
If you are sexually active, your provider will probably recommend regular tests for STIs, such as the ones listed above.1,2 Avoiding STIs is important because they may make you sick, require additional treatment, complicate your HIV care, and raise the risk of acquiring or transmitting additional STIs.
Sexually active people always run the risk of picking up new STIs, especially if they have sex without condoms. Knowing the symptoms of STIs will help you spot them early and get prompt care from your HIV provider.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is the most common STI in the United States. It can cause cervical cancer, anal cancer, penile cancer, and other cancers.3 There is a vaccine to protect you from HPV infection (www.gardasil.com/). Other common STIs are syphilis, gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and Trichomonas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has helpful fact sheets on many STIs, including bacterial vaginosis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis, genital herpes, syphilis, and trichomoniasis.4
Having sex with a condom protects you from many STIs. US Health Resources and Services Administration guidelines on HIV care include advice on using both male and female condoms.5
8. Tell your HIV provider about all other drugs, dietary or herbal supplements, and nutrients you take. Talk to your HIV provider before starting or stopping any drugs, supplements, or nutrients.
Many drugs, as well as supplements and nutrients you can get without a prescription, can raise or lower levels of your antiretrovirals (HIV medications).1,2 High antiretroviral levels raise the risk of side effects; low antiretroviral levels may not control your HIV.
Tell your HIV provider about all other drugs, supplements, or nutrients you take. And tell your provider whenever you're considering stopping or starting a nonprescription supplement or nutrient.
9. Depression (feeling sad or unmotivated much of the time) can be a serious medical problem -- it is not a sign of weakness. Discuss depression with your HIV provider and decide whether you may benefit from drug therapy or counseling for depression.
HIV infection and the problems it causes often lead to depression. If you often feel sad or unmotivated, talk to your HIV provider about these feelings. Depression is not a sign of weakness or something that can be ignored in hopes that it will go away. Depression is an illness that can be treated with counseling, drugs, or both, and your provider can help you decide whether you may benefit from such treatment.1,2
Major depression may lead to poor pill-taking habits and impair your commitment to staying healthy in many other ways. You may feel depression as sadness, lack of interest or pleasure in activities, fatigue, decreased ability to concentrate, appetite changes, sleeplessness, hopelessness, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, or thoughts of death or suicide.1
The National Institute of Mental Health has several useful, easy-to-read publications on depression in English and en Español: www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression-listing.shtml.
This article was provided by The Center for AIDS Information & Advocacy. Visit CFA's website to find out more about their activities and publications.
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