Tips for Boosting the Immune System When You Have HIV

People with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) need to be especially careful about taking care of their immune system. This virus often reduces T-cell counts in the body and can compromise the individual’s immune system, eventually leading to the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly and taking good care of their health overall can help to maintain a strong immune system and prevent further health problems.

If you or a loved one has HIV, talk to your doctor about different ways you can boost your immune system. Your doctor can help you put together a diet and lifestyle management plan that supports your health and reduces the risk of acquiring AIDS. Here are some basic lifestyle guidelines that may help to boost the immune system when you have HIV:

Avoid Drugs and Alcohol

Many recreational drugs and alcohol can weaken the immune system and may also trigger unwanted side effects if you are on prescription medication. Limit alcohol consumption and get help for any substance abuse problems. Make sure you are not skipping medications just so that you can consume alcohol or take recreational drugs. Many of these drugs stay in your system for several hours, and even days.

Be Mindful About Your Oral Hygiene

If you have a weak immune system, you may be more vulnerable to contracting certain types of viruses in the mouth and gums, and have a high risk of getting fever blisters, oral warts and canker sores. Talk to your dentist about your oral hygiene plan and keep up with your schedule of regular brushings. Good oral hygiene may prevent some common oral conditions from occurring and could also protect your heart and health.

Reduce Stress Naturally

Chronic stress can take its toll on your immune system and put you at risk for a number of other health problems. Make sure you are making time to take care of yourself by reducing stress in everyday life. Meditation, regular exercise, massage therapy, acupuncture and even talking to a counselor can help to reduce and eliminate unnecessary stress in your life and also improve your health overall.

Maintain Healthy Habits

If your immune system is compromised, you may be at a high risk of contracting viruses and diseases from the environment. Make sure you take extra steps to sanitize your living and working areas, avoid drinking water in a developing country when traveling, and take steps to eliminate germs when flying or using public transportation.

Reduce Your Risk of Skin Infections

If you notice some significant changes in your skin – frequent acne breakouts, psoriasis, impetigo or hives—set up an appointment with a dermatologist as soon as possible to get the treatment you need. Skin problems and skin infections are one of the early signs of HIV and can be managed better with the help of a dermatologist.

Learn more about Diet Recommendations for People Living with HIV here.

Talk to your doctor about other effective ways to boost your immune system with HIV. Your doctor can create a customized lifestyle management plan that will support your health and help you manage HIV symptoms better.