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Nutrition

Amelia Jones

This booklet is intended to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about food, nutrition and living with HIV. The first section of the booklet outlines how to eat well to stay well and gives information that applies to everyone, not just people living with HIV. It also gives advice on how to maintain a healthy weight and on food safety.

The following sections deal with HIV-related issues and cover interactions between HIV drugs and food and some of the dietary changes you may need to make to deal with certain side-effects of HIV treatment.

The information in this booklet isn’t intended to replace discussion with your doctor about your HIV treatment and care, but it may help you to think about questions you would like to ask your healthcare team.

Thanks to the people living with HIV and members of our medical review panel for their assistance in reviewing this booklet. In particular: Ben Cromarty; Alastair Duncan, Principal Dietitian, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital; Fiona Hillen, Specialist Dietitian, University Hospital of Wales; Zoe Rice, Dietitian, The Food Chain.

Nutrition is also available online in French.

  • Healthy eating

    Good nutrition is important for everyone’s health. Nutrition plays an important role in the health of the immune system and its ability to fight infection. Healthy...

  • Superfoods and fad diets

    Superfoods are foods that some people believe offer increased nutritional benefits and even help with or cure some medical conditions and are often consumed in large quantities....

  • Vitamins and minerals

    Vitamins and minerals are nutrients that our body needs in order to work properly. These nutrients occur naturally in food. Most people, including people living with HIV, can get all...

  • Herbal remedies

    Many people use herbal remedies to supplement their diet. It is always important to do this with caution and to tell your doctor and/or HIV pharmacist what...

  • Maintaining a healthy weight

    As for anyone, it’s important to maintain a healthy body weight when you have HIV. Being overweight or underweight can cause problems for your health. Maintaining a healthy...

  • Eating well on a budget

    If you are having difficulty affording food, or buying food that you need for a special diet, a member of your healthcare team can put you in...

  • Dietitians

    You can get advice on nutrition from a specially trained health professional called a dietitian. Some HIV clinics have specialist dietitians or can refer you to them....

  • Alcohol

    There is some evidence that drinking alcohol is more harmful for people with HIV than people who don’t have HIV. It is recommended that people should...

  • Water and other fluids

    It is important to stay properly hydrated to ensure that the body has enough fluid (liquid) to function properly. It is recommended that people drink 6 to 8...

  • Food safety

    If you have a strong immune system, your risk of getting food poisoning is no greater than it is for an HIV-negative person.However, there are precautions we...

  • Your diet and anti-HIV drugs

    Choosing a drug combination that you can fit into your existing eating habits is usually easier than trying to adjust your eating habits to fit the drugs. There...

  • Managing side-effects that interfere with eating

    Like all medicines, the drugs used to treat HIV can cause side-effects. These are most likely to occur when you first start taking a drug, but...

  • Unintentional weight loss

    The improvements in health that accompany treatment with anti-HIV drugs include improvements in body weight. However, weight loss can be a very serious issue for people with HIV,...

  • HIV treatment, metabolic changes and ageing

    Smoking, lack of exercise, eating a lot of fatty foods and drinking a lot of alcohol can cause changes to blood fats and to the way your...

  • Conditions related to HIV treatment, metabolic changes and ageing

    Lipodystrophy is a condition which causes changes in body shape and involves fat loss or fat gain in certain parts of the body. Long-term use of some older anti-HIV...

  • Hepatitis and other liver disease

    The liver has many important functions in the body. For people with HIV, it plays a vital role in processing the drugs used to treat HIV. Some...

  • Interactions between drugs and food

    The following is an overview of dietary requirements for currently available HIV drugs. When you are prescribed a new drug you should be given written information about...

  • Summary

    If your normal diet is balanced, this should be sufficient to meet your nutritional requirements – HIV alone rarely means that people have to make major changes...

Nutrition

Published August 2016

Last reviewed August 2016

Next review August 2019

Contact NAM to find out more about the scientific research and information used to produce this booklet.

NAM is grateful to the Department of Health and Wandsworth Oasis for funding towards the production of this booklet.

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.
Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention

Together, we can make it happen

We can end HIV soon if people have equal access to HIV drugs as treatment and as PrEP, and have free choice over whether to take them.

Launched today, the Community Consensus Statement is a basic set of principles aimed at making sure that happens.

The Community Consensus Statement is a joint initiative of AVAC, EATG, MSMGF, GNP+, HIV i-Base, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ITPC and NAM/aidsmap
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