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Diabetes Facts for People With HIV

June 19, 2015

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a treatable disease caused by high levels of blood sugar, also called blood glucose. Prediabetes is a blood sugar level above normal but not high enough to be called diabetes. Gestational diabetes can develop when a woman is pregnant.

How Common Is Diabetes?

Almost 1 in 10 people in the United States has diabetes. Another 1.7 million people in the United States get diabetes every year.

What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes?

High blood glucose and diabetes often have no symptoms. Three possible symptoms that you should report to your HIV provider are (1) excessive hunger despite eating regularly, (2) excessive thirst, and (3) increased urination.

Other possible signs of diabetes are extreme fatigue, blurry vision, cuts or bruises that heal slowly, and tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands or feet.

Who Is at Risk of Diabetes?

  • People 45 and older
  • Overweight or obese people
  • Father, mother, brother, or sister with diabetes
  • Nonwhite race (see chart)
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol or triglycerides
  • Physical inactivity
  • Heart disease

Diabetes Rates by Race in the United States

Diabetes Rates by Race in the United States

* Includes American Indians and Alaska natives. Source: American Diabetes Association. Statistics about diabetes.

What Can I Do to Prevent or Control Diabetes?

  • Be physically active every day
  • Lose weight if you are overweight
  • Get diet advice from a dietician recommended by your HIV provider
  • Lower salt and alcohol intake
  • Talk to your provider about lowering high blood pressure
  • Talk to your provider about lowering high cholesterol or triglycerides

Should I Get Tested for Diabetes?

Everyone with HIV infection should get tested for diabetes every 6 to 12 months.

How Is Diabetes Treated?

If the steps outlined above do not lower high blood sugar, your provider can prescribe medications that can control prediabetes or diabetes.


Aberg JA, Gallant JE, Ghanem KG, et al. Primary care guidelines for the management of persons infected with HIV: 2013 update by the HIV Medicine Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Clin Infect Dis. 2014;58:e1-e34.

American Diabetes Association. Diabetes basics.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC). Your guide to diabetes: type 1 and type 2.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration. Guide for HIV/AIDS clinical care. April 2014.

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This article was provided by The Center for AIDS Information & Advocacy. It is a part of the publication Research Initiative/Treatment Action!. Visit CFA's website to find out more about their activities and publications.

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