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In this article I will try to present what is like to live with AIDS: what are the problems of physical, psychologicaland social nature that people living with with AIDS must cope with.
At first we thought that living with AIDS isn't possible, that people who have AIDS 'must' die and are not capable of living healthy and productive lives. This is not true!
Although HIV infection and AIDS are very serious diseases, people with HIV and AIDS are living longer, healthier and productive lives. They have to thank new and effective treatments, but also their discipline and healthier life style.

Difference between HIV and AIDS

Although these differences are mentioned many times in HIV and AIDS, I will explain it once more.
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS: person can be infected with HIV for many years before AIDS develops. AIDS is diagnosed when CD4 cell count falls bellow 200 (in someone with healthy immune system CD4 cell count ranges from 500 to 1800 per cubic millimeter) and when person has a variety of symptoms and infections. AIDS is diagnosed through few specific test results- there is namely no single test to diagnose AIDS.    
Time before HIV develops in AIDS is different for everyone and depends on various factors, such as age, life style, nutrition, exercise, stress exposure, genetics.

Living with AIDS

Person with AIDS must consider many things and must make many positive changes if she or he wants to stay healthy.
For a start, it is essential to have a health care provider who knows how to treat HIV and AIDS. Follow your doctor's instructions and keep your appointments. If the doctor prescribes medicine, follow instructions. However, if you get sick from medications, call your doctor and ask for advice. Do not take any advices from friends, although they probably have only the best intentions.
It is essential for AIDS patient to practice safe sex. In the first place not to infect sexual partner, but also not to get sexually transmitted disease him or herself. In risky periods, such as winter and other times, it is very important for AIDS patient to avoid pneumonia and flu. For that reason doctor will tell you when to get immunizations, shots that may prevent certain viruses.
For person with AIDS it is essential to live a healthy life. Healthy life includes healthy and rich diet, which will give person enough energy and keep him or her strong enough to fight the disease. Do not eat out, and if you do order your food well done. Avoid deli foods and don't eat or buy ready-to-eat items which are touching raw items or are displayed in the same case.  

People with AIDS have problems eating many times. For example, if you don't have an appetite, try to eat your favorite food and try to eat more smaller meals instead three large ones. If you have diarrhea, do not eat fried food or other high-fat or high-fiber foods. In that case eat grains, best is whole grains, like whole-grained bread, brown rice and similar. People with AIDS often have mouth sores: in that case avoid citrus fruits, because they will make your sores burn. The same is with spicy food. Avoid hot or cold drinks and use straw when drinking.        If you are vomiting or having nausea, avoid drinking any liquid with your meals and better eat more smeller meals that three large one. Also relax for at least 30 minutes after a meal.  
For person with AIDS it is essential to exercise or practice regular physical activity. Healthy life style of course includes no smoking, no alcohol and no drugs. It is also important to avoid stress as much as possible. For that reason, often meditation or prayer, along with plenty of rest and sleeping help AIDS patients to cope with everyday stress and most of all, the stress of having HIV or AIDS in the first place. 

Potential diseases that people with HIV and AIDS could get

HIV damages persons immune system, for that reason HIV and AIDS patients are more exposed and have a higher chance of getting certain disease. These diseases are called opportunistic infections. They are named that way because an HIV-infected person’s weakened immune system gives these diseases the opportunity to develop. If you have any of following symptoms, tell your doctor right away. Usual symptoms of opportunity diseases include:
  • mouth problems, such as sores, white spots (thrush), problems with teeth, problems with swallowing, changes in taste
  • diarrhea
  • breathing problems
  • problems with skin, such as skin rashes or itching
  • fever for more than two days
  • unexpected weigth loss  
  • change in vision, such as moving lines or spots in your vision.
Typical opportunity diseases are pneumonia, hepatitis C, human papilloma virus, tuberculosis, toxoplasmosis, mycobacterium avium complex, cytomegalovirus, cryptosporidiosis etc.          
If you have HIV or AIDS, it is essential for you to have a steady contact your health provider!

AIDS and HIV – related mental problems

Most common are feeling of emotional distress, depression and anxiety.
When people first receive the diagnosis, they produce strong emotional reactions; from shock and denial to anger, guilt and sadness. Even suicidal thoughts occur. Family and friends also experience similar reactios, but they are the one that are most helpful at these times. If not them, there is always help through counseling.
Depression, which is characterized by the presence of low mood, fatigue, apathy, loss of pleasure in activities, trouble sleeping etc. is twice as common in people with HIV and AIDS as in the general population. There are different types of treatments for depression: from medications to psychotherapy or even running.
Depression is often accompanied by anxiety. People suffering from HIV and AIDS have anxiety attacks; they include shortness of breath, sweating, rapid heat beat, headaches. Both western and alternative medicine have cures for such problems.

Social aspects of AIDS and HIV

You shouldn't be afraid to shake hands or to hug with a person who has AIDS or HIV. You also shouldn't be afraid if working together (in most cases). It is important to take certain precautions,
Despite all the information shared in past years, AIDS is still a stigma. Actually it goes without saying that HIV and AIDS are as much about social phenomena as they are about biological and medical concerns, and this is true for the rich as it is for the poor countries.  
Know that stigma is a powerful tool of social control! It is used to marginalize and exclude people that show certain characteristics, in this case HIV and AIDS patients.
In many cases the disease is related to sexual orientation and we should know better this is not true! It is just a stereotype. Some connect HIV and AIDS with perversion and punishment, some link it with the shame it brings to the family, not to mention discrimination people experience in their workplaces.
People, we should really know better! We must know that stigmatization and discrimination of HIV and AIDS patients places a great burden on them, and they are already carrying one! It is very important to fight narrow mindedness and most of all fear that is based in the massages of discriminating social attitudes.