Patients who have HIV and weight loss? What factors might lead to weight loss in a person with HIV? Is there anything that an HIV-positive person can do to help prevent weight loss?
Weight loss with HIV is relatively common. Studies have found that between 14% and 38% of HIV patients will experience HIV wasting syndrome. This is defined as a decrease in body weight of 10% or more, accompanied by 30 days or more of diarrhea and/or fever.
Even a smaller amount of weight loss can make a difference. In people with HIV, a 5% loss in body weight is associated with an increased risk for progression of the virus. That’s a weight loss of just 10 pounds in a 200-pound person. This is why it’s crucial for people with HIV to take steps to maintain their weight, and address any weight loss as soon as possible.
There are a number of different reasons that a person with HIV may experience weight loss, including:
Patients with HIV who experience rapid weight loss should discuss this with their doctors. Because weight loss is associated with an increased risk for progression of the virus, it’s important to ensure that any HIV weight loss symptoms are addressed as soon as possible.
Treating opportunistic infections with antibiotics can make a difference for many patients. Reducing levels of the virus in the blood can also help. This may involve switching to different antiretroviral medications, in order to get HIV under better control. In some patients, medications intended to stimulate appetite may also be useful to help patients maintain their body weight.
Treating HIV early in the course of the disease can help to prevent progression to later stages. This is why it’s so important to get tested. A simple blood test can be used to check for HIV, and the blood sample can even be obtained at home using a fingerprick. This sample is then sent to a laboratory, and the HIV test results are then delivered online.
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