HIV and Nutrition and Food Safety
January 29, 2018
What Is Nutrition?
Nutrition refers to the food we eat to grow and stay healthy. Nutrition also includes all the processes our body uses to take in and use that food (called metabolism).
Why Is Good Nutrition Important for People Living With HIV?
Good nutrition supports overall health and helps maintain the immune system. Good nutrition also helps people with HIV maintain a healthy weight and absorb HIV medicines.
HIV attacks and destroys the immune system, which makes it harder for the body to fight off infections. Daily use of HIV medicines (called antiretroviral therapy or ART) prevents HIV from destroying the immune system. But a healthy diet also helps strengthen the immune system and keep people with HIV healthy.
What Is a Healthy Diet for People Living With HIV?
In general, the basics of a healthy diet are the same for everyone, including people with HIV.
To learn more about how to maintain a healthy diet, visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) ChooseMyPlate.gov website.
What Are Some Nutrition-Related Problems That People With HIV May Face?
Living with HIV and taking HIV medicines can sometimes make it hard for a person to follow a healthy diet. The following are examples of nutrition-related issues that can affect people with HIV:
Browse the following resources to learn more about HIV and nutrition and how to manage nutrition-related problems:
In addition to eating healthy, people with HIV must pay attention to food safety.
What Is Food Safety?
Food and water can be contaminated with germs that cause illnesses. Food safety refers to ways to handle, prepare, and store food to prevent foodborne illnesses (sometimes called food poisoning).
Why Is Food Safety Important for People Living With HIV?
HIV attacks the immune system. A weakened immune system makes it hard for the body to fight off infections, including foodborne illnesses.
Following food safety guidelines reduces the risk of foodborne illnesses, which are likely to be more serious and last longer in people with HIV than in people with a healthy immune system.
What Steps Can People With HIV Take to Prevent Foodborne Illnesses?
People with HIV can reduce their risk of foodborne illnesses by avoiding certain foods and taking care to prepare and store foods safely. If you have HIV, follow these food safety guidelines:
Don't eat or drink the following foods:
Water contaminated with human or animal waste can also cause illness. To be safe, never drink water directly from a lake or river and don't swallow water during swimming.
It is important to be careful about what you eat or drink if you are traveling outside of the United States, especially in developing countries. Before your trip, read this fact sheet for people living with HIV and traveling outside the United States from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Follow the four basic steps to food safety: clean, separate, cook, and chill.
This fact sheet is based on information from the following sources:
From the AIDS Education and Training Center (AETC) National Coordinating Resource Center:
From CDC, the National Institutes of Health, and the HIV Medicine Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America:
[Note from TheBody.com: This article was created by AIDSinfo, who last updated it on Dec. 6, 2017. We have cross-posted it with their permission.]
This article was provided by AIDSinfo. Visit the AIDSinfo website to find out more about their activities and publications.
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