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25 Things You Need to Do if You Have HIV

June 2011

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13. Use of illegal drugs or "party drugs," or excessive use of alcohol, can interfere with your HIV care and HIV pill taking and can raise the risk you will infect someone else with your HIV. You should address substance use or abuse with your HIV provider.

  • Average score: 4.42 (with 5 the highest and 1 the lowest)
  • Percentage voting 5: 50%
  • Percentage voting 4 or 5: 92%
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Many studies show that taking illegal drugs, including "party drugs" or "recreational drugs," and drinking too much alcohol raise the risk of transmitting HIV to another person or getting infected with another sexually transmitted disease.1 Taking drugs and drinking too much alcohol also raise the risk that you will forget to take your HIV medications.2 Recreational drugs can also interact dangerously with HIV medications.

People who inject drugs should get help to stop. Your HIV provider can direct you to programs that will address addiction to injected drugs, pills, or alcohol. The National Institute of Drug Abuse (http://drugpubs.drugabuse.gov/) and the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (www.niaaa.nih.gov/Publications/PamphletsBrochuresPosters/English/Pages/default.aspx) offer many easy-to-understand booklets on drug and alcohol use and abuse.

References

  1. US Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration. Guide for HIV/AIDS clinical care. January 2011. Pages 543-552. http://hab.hrsa.gov/deliverhivaidscare/clinicalguide11/pdf/p07-cg/CM_Jan2011.pdf. Accessed June 20, 2011.
  2. Aberg JA, Kaplan JE, Libman H, et al; HIV Medicine Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Primary care guidelines for the management of persons infected with human immunodeficiency virus: 2009 update by the HIV Medicine Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Clin Infect Dis. 2009;49:651–681. http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/49/5/651.full. Accessed May 19, 2011.


14. Get tested for viruses that cause hepatitis. Ask your HIV provider whether you need a vaccine for hepatitis A or hepatitis B. Start treatment for hepatitis B or C if necessary.

  • Average score: 4.41 (with 5 the highest and 1 the lowest)
  • Percentage voting 5: 55%
  • Percentage voting 4 or 5: 91%

Hepatitis virus infection is common in people with HIV because hepatitis viruses and HIV are transmitted in the same ways. Infection with a hepatitis virus has a great impact on HIV treatment and overall care.1,2

Your HIV provider will probably test you for hepatitis viruses, including hepatitis A, B, and C (HAV, HBV, and HCV). If you don't already have HAV or HBV, they can often be prevented by vaccines.2 Even if you do not feel symptoms of hepatitis, these viruses are damaging your liver. Alcohol and recreational drugs can increase liver injury caused by hepatitis viruses.2

Treatment options for HBV and HCV have improved greatly in the past several years. Treating hepatitis viruses in people with HIV requires careful planning and close monitoring. Do not stop treatment for HBV or HCV on your own.

Pregnant women can pass a hepatitis virus to the fetus.2

Tell your current and former sex partners and needle-sharing partners if you have hepatitis virus infection and suggest that your partners get tested for hepatitis viruses.2

References

  1. European AIDS Clinical Society. Guidelines for the clinical management and treatment of chronic hepatitis B and C coinfection in HIV-infected adults. www.europeanaidsclinicalsociety.org/images/stories/EACS-Guidelines/3_chronic_hepatitis_b__c.pdf. Accessed June 21, 2011.
  2. US Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration. Guide for HIV/AIDS clinical care. January 2011. Pages 405-422. http://hab.hrsa.gov/deliverhivaidscare/clinicalguide11/pdf/p07-cg/CM_Jan2011.pdf. Accessed June 20, 2011.


15. Take all your HIV medications regularly, exactly as instructed.

  • Average score: 4.28 (with 5 the highest and 1 the lowest)
  • Percentage voting 5: 56%
  • Percentage voting 4 or 5: 76%

As with any medicine, it's important to take your HIV medications regularly, as your HIV provider instructs. Taking your antiretrovirals regularly is critical to the success of your treatment.1,2 Missing too many doses can make HIV resistant to your antiretrovirals. If your antiretrovirals are causing side effects, don't stop taking them or skip doses. Tell your provider about the side effects immediately.

Don't panic if you miss a dose or two. You and your provider can plan ahead for what to do if you miss a dose. If you don't have a plan and you realize you missed a dose, call your provider to discuss what to do.

If you often have trouble remembering to take your HIV medications, your provider can help you plan reminders that will improve your pill taking.

References

  1. US Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration. Guide for HIV/AIDS clinical care. January 2011. Pages 253-258. http://hab.hrsa.gov/deliverhivaidscare/clinicalguide11/pdf/p07-cg/CM_Jan2011.pdf. Accessed June 20, 2011.
  2. Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents. Guidelines for the use of antiretroviral agents in HIV-1-infected adults and adolescents. Department of Health and Human Services. January 10, 2011. Pages 121-124. www.aidsinfo.nih.gov/ContentFiles/AdultandAdolescentGL.pdf. Accessed June 17, 2011.
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This article was provided by The Center for AIDS. Visit CFA's website to find out more about their activities and publications.
 
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