NO DIETS; JUST EAT SENSIBLY Eat regularly (at least 3 and up to 5 times a day). Eat a variety of foods including protein (meat, chicken, liver, fish, eggs, beans, peas, lentils), fruit (avoid fruit juice with added sugar), vegetables (dark green vegetables like spinach, marog, brussel sprouts, broccoli, peas; root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots; pumpkin, squashes), grains and nuts (wholewheat bread, pasta, rice, sorghum, maize, cereals like oats and barley, seeds like pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, flax), and 2-3 cups of low-fat dairy a day (milk, maas, yoghurt, cheese). Uncooked oils (canola, olive) are healthy but avoid heated oils (eg frying). Avoid unnatural sugars (eg sweeteners and “sugar-free” drinks) and use small amounts of natural sugars like honey or brown unrefined sugar. Drink water. Switch from black to rooibos and green tea. Avoid fizzy drinks.
EXERCISE At least 30 minutes 3 times a week. If the gym is not for you, think of stretching exercises like pilates and yoga, brisk walking, or jogging. Take 10 minutes of sunshine every day.
PREGNANCY, SAFE CONCEPTION Recent advances in medical science have returned so much to people living with HIV: health, dignity, longevity and the dreams of normal life. With great medical care including the appropriate use of antiretroviral therapy, safer conception and HIV-free babies are now possible parts of fulfilling family life for people living with HIV.
Dewald: When my mom died on 25 January 2001 I did not cope and started doing drugs to hide from the pain. I was taking drugs 24/7 and did about 4 grams a day. In October that year I decided enough is enough because I realized that this is not what my mom would have wanted for me. Life was looking better and I started getting other jobs. I was dancing in shows again until my knees started to give trouble and I had to see a doctor. The doctor told me that it was time for an HIV test again. I did not think much of it, I thought it is just routine. On Friday 30 November I walked into my flat and turned on the television, a local soap was on and one of the characters just found out that she was HIV positive, I turned ice cold, hair raising all over my body. I switched the television off and went straight to the doctor. On that day I was diagnosed with HIV.I thought it was the end of my life, and did not know what to do. That night I had to perform, but my friends could see something was wrong. I went to bed crying myself asleep and did not want to get up in the morning. The next day I decided to go to the shop for cigarettes and decided to buy a lotto ticket since I had nothing to lose. The next morning I found out I won R216 000 in the lotto. There was light again. What happened between that time and 2008 is a story for another day. In June 2008 I went to the doctor because I slept a lot and had no energy. We found out that my CD4 was 51. The doctor put me on Viramune and Truvada immediately and in a 6 month period my CD4 went up to 180 and down to 41 again. The doctor suggested that we do resistance tests, which showed that I have a combination virus and I had to change ARV’s. I started on Aluvia and Combivir but after 6 months the diarrhea, vomiting and headaches got worse instead of better. I started to lose hope, I have been fighting this virus for 8 years and got sick of being permanently sick.I tried to commit suicide, but did not succeed. My friend suggested that I get a second opinion from another doctor. I eventually agreed and went. Two and a half hours and plenty of tears later, I walked out of the consulting room feeling hopeful again just because of her nature and the way she spoke to me. She explained to me that I suffered from depression and that my diet was completely wrong for the medicine I take. I started eating oily foods for breakfast to take the headaches and nausea away. My health has improved ten folds and I am much happier now. I am sure my CD4 has improved as well. It is so important to know how to change your lifestyle with taking ARV’s so that you can be healthy and happy
For the record, there is no medical evidence for the use of excess garlic and African potato in HIV, and when high doses are used, they have been proven to be harmful because of bad effects on the gastrointestinal system and bone marrow respectively, and because high doses can also lessen the action of antiretroviral drugs. Selenium is important for CD4 function: try one cup of Pronutro cereal a day, one cup of sunflower seeds a day or even just one whole Brazil nut a day. Or get a selenium supplement - 200mcg daily for adults. So many concoctions are marketed as “immune boosters” but are not helpful and some are even harmful. These substances are often not regulated by the Medicines Control Council of South Africa, so check with your doctor before buying these expensive quack products. Avoid alcohol and smoking. You already know all the reasons why.
Couples counseling and HIV testing are recommended for those in relationships. Couples planning a pregnancy should consult their HIV doctors as soon as possible, as much can be done to optimize conception. Pregnant women must seek care immediately; the earlier that antiretroviral therapy is started in pregnancy, the better.
Sophie: Hi, my name is Sophie and I am HIV +. I found out when I was pregnant; I was becoming weak and dizzy and had no work. I was shocked but the counselling helped because I found out that it is not just about dying, that you can still live for a long time. I have accepted my status and I am living a healthy life now. At first I was scared to start treatment while pregnant but Doctor told me it would make me healthy and help my baby and now my little girl is HIV negative and growing well. When I started ARVs they made me feel ok and my CD4 count went from 87 to 164 in 3 months. I have told all my friends and family and they have been supportive. I am also helping others with HIV now. My message to everyone is to get tested, talk about it and accept treatment, don’t be scared.
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HIV Support South Africa
based in Johannesburg
Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre
011 482 8297