Today, Quality of Life Is a Main Goal for Those Living With HIV

HIV and Your Quality of Life: A Guide to Side Effects and Better Long-Term Health

For about a decade, the British group HIV i-Base has produced a guide on the side effects of HIV medications. The document has provided clear and vital information for many people newly diagnosed with HIV.

Simon Collins, one of the group's founders and author of the guide, says that "it is meant as a simple, clear reference guide -- not just on side effects but on long-term issues for living with HIV."

And, every time the guide has been updated, it's gotten shorter. Collins told TheBody.com that's because treatment has improved and gotten easier to take. In September 2016, the title of the publication changed to emphasize quality of life, reflecting the new realities of living with HIV in a time of medication with fewer side effects.

"We don't just want to live longer but to have the best quality of life -- every day," explained Collins, who has been living with HIV for decades. "If you are unlucky and get side effects to one medication, then switching to an alternative is safe and easy. For example, so many people persist with low-level side effects from efavirenz [Sustiva, Stocrin], perhaps not even recognizing them. They only notice the difference after trying a newer alternative."

The guide now features more information for those who are living later in life with HIV.

"Early [antiretroviral treatment] normalizes life expectancy, so quality of life becomes a main goal," said Collins. "As getting older is tough, we have also expanded sections on age-related complications and lifestyle changes."

JD Davids is the managing editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.