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Infections Linked to AIDS

How to Help Yourself

April 1993

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 As a result, parts of this article may be outdated.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!

Stay Healthy Longer: Fight Infections
People with HIV can get many infections (called opportunistic infections, or OIs). Many of these illnesses are very serious, and they need to be treated. Some can be prevented.

This page explains what you can do to help prevent and treat these infections -- and stay healthy longer.

To the left are the parts of the body that can be harmed and the medical name for each infection.

How to Help Yourself
  1. Go to a clinic or doctor for regular check-ups. That way, you can spot problems early and get help right away.

  2. Keep your body's immune system (its defense against disease) as strong as you can. This means eating healthy foods, getting enough rest and exercise, and staying away from alcohol, cigarettes, and street drugs. It may also mean taking medicine, even when you feel well.

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  3. Women with HIV should have regular pelvic exams. Be sure to ask your doctor or clinic nurse how often you should have a Pap smear.

  4. Watch for signs of infection, and report them right away. Call the doctor or clinic if you notice any of these problems:

    • Diarrhea
    • Cough
    • Sores
    • Persistent or severe headaches
    • Feeling tired all the time
    • Fever
    • Blurry eyesight
    • Vaginal discharge, burning, or itching that does not go away
    • Irregular menstrual bleeding or abdominal pain that does not go away

    These signs do not always mean you have an infection, but you may need tests to find out. It is important to tell the clinic nurse or doctor as soon as you have a problem.

  5. Ask if you need to take medicines to prevent or delay some infections like PCP pneumonia.

  6. Take medicines as directed. Do not stop taking any medicines until the doctor or nurse tell you to. If you stop taking the medicines too soon, the infection may come back and be harder to treat.
Research: Hope for the Future
Scientists have made progress against infections linked to AIDS, and they are looking for new ways to help people with HIV stay healthy longer.

Today, many new drugs are being tested. You may be able to take part in one of these tests. If a new drug works, you may help yourself and others to fight infections better.

If you are interested, talk to your doctor or clinic nurse. Or call the numbers below to find out more.

Remember:

  • To help you stay healthy, be sure to go to your doctor or clinic regularly.
  • Learn how to keep your body's immune system strong.
  • Watch for signs of infection and call the clinic or your doctor right away if you think you might be sick.
  • If you need to take medicine, be sure you know how and when to take it.
How To Find Out More
Here are some numbers to call to learn more about these infections and their treatment:
  • 1-800-CDC-INFO
    (1-800-232-4636)

    You can ask questions and get more information about HIV-linked infections. You can also find out about support groups, treatment centers, and services for people with HIV.

  • 1-800-TRIALS-A
    (1-800-874-2572)

    You can find out about research studies for infections linked to AIDS -- which drugs are being tested, where the studies take place, and who is doing the research

  • 1-800-AIDS-NIH
    (1-800-243-7644)

    Call Monday through Friday from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) to find out about studies being done at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center.

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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See Also
Strategies for Managing Opportunistic Infections
More on Opportunistic Infections & Complications

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