Nutrition and Food Safety Facts for Recently Diagnosed HIV Patients

Gynecologists recommend routine HIV testing for women and men, as early detection facilitates early treatment. Living with HIV isn’t easy, but thanks to medical advances, life with this disease can be better and longer than ever. Taking your medications as prescribed is just one component of your treatment plan. Your immune system needs you to follow a healthy diet, and to take precautions to prevent foodborne illnesses.

Nutrition-Related Issues

Talk to your doctor about any problems you’re having with your meal plan. Several challenges may affect HIV patients, including related infections that inhibit normal eating and swallowing. Metabolic changes can trigger weight gain or loss. Additionally, HIV medicine may cause side effects like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. All of these issues can make it more difficult for you to eat well, but your doctor can help you. Don’t delay scheduling an appointment if you experience these complications, especially if you begin to unintentionally lose weight.

Important Nutrients

Patients with HIV need the same nutrients that everyone else does for good health. However, since you may have problems eating enough due to HIV-related complications, it’s even more important that the food you do eat is nutrient-dense. Consider talking with a registered dietician to make sure your meal plan includes sufficient amounts of:

  • Protein
  • Healthy fats
  • Vitamins and minerals
  • Complex carbohydrates

Remember to drink plenty of water throughout each day.

Food Safety Precautions

HIV patients are highly susceptible to contracting infections, since HIV attacks the immune system. In other words, you’re more vulnerable to foodborne illnesses than the average person without HIV. Protect yourself by taking the following precautions.

  • Never eat raw or undercooked foods (including raw cookie dough and homemade mayonnaise)
  • Avoid unpasteurized dairy products
  • Cook all meat, poultry, and seafood to its safe internal temperature
  • Avoid raw sprouts
  • Refrigerate perishable foods promptly
  • Wash hands before and after preparing food
  • Keep raw foods separate from cooked foods
  • Use separate cutting boards for raw meat products and all other ingredients

Remember to follow basic precautions when dining out and socializing. Don’t be shy about asking whether meat is well-done or if the milk is pasteurized. When traveling, consume bottled water.

You can receive confidential HIV testing in Washington, D.C. if there’s a possibility that you’re at risk of this infection. Washington Surgi-Clinic is committed to maintaining the strict confidentiality of each of our valued patients. Call (202) 659-9403.

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