top of page

Living healthily with HIV


Patient information

  • The importance of rest, relaxation, sleep and well balanced diet;

  • Facts about healthy living;

  •  Healthy living tips.

Healthy living relates to a wide variety of lifestyle choices. It includes what we eat and drink, the exercise we take and how much rest and relaxation we get. All of these things can affect our general wellbeing and could have an impact on our physical and mental health, as well as on HIV.

The importance of rest, relaxation and sleep should not be underestimated. It is important to keep and maintain optimal energy levels. A lack of sleep, disturbed sleep and general feelings of tiredness can not only affect your physical and mental health, but also negatively impact on HIV.

A healthy, well balanced diet is equally important and can be beneficial both physically and mentally. Exercise is important too and different forms of exercise can have different results. Exercising does not have to involve gym workouts: brisk walks are good for you too.

It is also sensible to avoid drinking excessively, for anyone, not just people with HIV. Refraining from or stopping smoking can also improve your health and reduce the risk of other complications. If you would like to consider stopping smoking, discuss this with your nurse or doctor.

Facts about healthy living

Diet: the food you eat can directly affect how you feel and behave, which is why it is important to have a healthy, balanced diet. Different groups of food have different properties that can be beneficial. For example, fruit and vegetables provide antioxidants that can limit damage to your arteries and some contain fibre, which can reduce cholesterol levels. A dietitian can provide useful advice on the foods you should eat and can draw up a diet plan tailored specifically to you.

Obesity: high fat levels are linked with heart disease. Therefore, people who are overweight or obese have a greater risk of heart disease. If you are looking to lose weight, talk with your healthcare professional.

Exercise: any exercise can be good for you if it is done  sensibly and not excessively. Exercise not only improves your fitness levels and alters your body shape, but it can also strengthen your heart and improve your cholesterol levels. Most forms of exercise can make you  look and feel better. Resistance training (such as using  weights) can firm up areas of your body, while aerobic  exercise (such as brisk walks) can burn off body fat. 

Smoking: people who smoke have a higher risk 
of heart disease and other conditions, including cancers. Ideally you should refrain from smoking or, if you are a smoker, try to quit. There are several stop smoking programmes available – please discuss with  your healthcare professional if you would like to stop.

Alcohol: if you drink alcohol, it should be drunk 
in moderation (unless you have liver-related conditions, such as hepatitis B or C, then alcohol should be avoided). Excessive alcohol consumption can impact on your physical health and mental wellbeing. 

Recreational drugs: taking recreational drugs is linked to emotional and mental health problems and can directly affect the efficacy of your HIV medication.

 Healthy living tips


Lifestyle choices can have a direct impact on mental and physical health and therefore can directly affect your HIV. Making good and sensible choices around living well can improve your overall health and have a positive impact on HIV.

Making good choices relating to your diet, exercise, smoking, alcohol and other lifestyle activities can all make a significant difference. It is also important to remember to get adequate rest and relaxation.

In addition, a good support network could provide additional help, both to your emotional and mental state and possibly to your physical wellbeing too. There are many kinds of support that can be provided by an array of people, ranging from friends and loved ones to a healthcare professional.

Having someone to talk to or confide in can ease stress and relieve burden. Having a support network can also provide you with people to motivate you in your lifestyle choices, such as encouraging you with an exercise plan or helping you with a diet.

A good relationship with your healthcare professional can help you best manage your HIV.

bottom of page