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Viral Hepatitis and HIV

2004

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

Taking Care of Your Liver

Whether you have liver damage because of a viral hepatitis infection or for any other reason, talk with your healthcare provider about liver health and consider the following:

  • Get vaccinated against hepatitis A and hepatitis B if you don't already have the antibodies.

  • Don't share:

    • drug paraphernalia (needles, syringes, cookers, cotton, water, snorting straws);

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    • toothbrushes, razors, manicure implements, and other items that can retain blood.

  • Consider reducing or stopping your alcohol intake. Alcohol significantly increases the risk of developing cirrhosis and liver cancer.

  • If you have chronic HBV or HCV, find a doctor who understands viral hepatitis -- a gastroenterologist (digestive system specialist), hepatologist (liver specialist), and some infectious disease and primary care physicians. If you're considering treatment, a team approach, including access to a psychiatrist, is best.

  • Get regular health check-ups, including liver enzyme tests. Keep track of all appropriate test results -- liver enzyme levels, viral load, and genotype.

  • Eat a balanced diet of fresh vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, and lean meats.

  • Cut down on foods with high salt, sugar or fat content: cheese, fast food, fried food, and processed foods (cookies, cakes, frozen dinners, packaged foods with long shelf lives, "instant" foods).

  • Get a healthy balance of protein in your diet -- too much protein can stress your liver.

  • Drink lots of fluids -- especially water -- to flush toxins from your body.

  • Get regular exercise and develop a stress reduction plan.

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol and other non-aspirin pain relievers), particularly in large amounts (2,000/mg day), are toxic to the liver. Acetaminophen is in many medications, so read the labels carefully. Acetaminophen and alcohol together can cause severe liver damage.

  • Avoid high doses of vitamins A, D, E, and K.

  • Herbs and herbal products that are sometimes used to promote liver health include: milk thistle (silymarin), astragalus, dandelion, bupleurum, garlic, licorice root, artichoke, thioctic (alpha-lipoic) acid, and ginkgo biloba. All substances, including herbs, can have side effects and may interact with other drugs you are taking, including anti-HIV medications. Talk with your healthcare provider or pharmacist before using and complementary or alternative therapies -- including over-the-counter ones.

  • Avoid herbs that are known to be toxic to the liver: peppermint, mistletoe, yerba tea, sassafras, germander, chaparral, skull cap, nutmeg, valerian, Jin Bu Juan, comfrey (bush tea), pennyroyal, and tansy ragwortsenna.

  • Don't take iron supplements unless advised to by your healthcare provider -- too much iron can be hard on the liver.


A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!



  
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This article was provided by AIDS Community Research Initiative of America. Visit ACRIA's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
 
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