HEALTHY FOR LIFE: MEN AND HIV
Making positive changes to your lifestyle can help you stay healthier for longer, whether you are newly diagnosed or have lived with HIV for many years. This section provides information, tips and advice for men about sex, starting a family (if you’re thinking about this) and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Use the menu bar or click on the boxes below to find out what you can do to take care of your health.
You’ve got your first real job and you’re making new friends. It is important that you don’t forget your health at this age. If you look after yourself and make small lifestyle changes now, you could reach a life expectancy the same as someone who is HIV negative.
Even into your late 20s, you can add to your peak bone mass. People living with HIV can be at a greater risk of osteoporosis, so the more bone mass you build up now, the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis later in life. Calcium and vitamin D are vital and can be obtained through oily fish, dairy products and egg yolk. Speak to your doctor if you are concerned about your vitamin D levels.
Moderate exercise on a regular basis is good for your immune system and overall health at any age. You reach your peak muscle strength between 20–35 years of age. So make the most of this time by doing strength training and eating a balanced diet. Consider using a food diary to track your diet and calorie intake.
Try to keep to no more than 14 units of alcohol in a week and spread these over at least 3 days to avoid binge drinking. Drinking excess alcohol could increase your risk of developing heart disease later in life which is a risk already increased for many people with HIV. Look online for a health app that helps you monitor your alcohol intake.
Maintaining good general health is very important. If you take supplements or are thinking about taking them, talk to your doctor because some HIV drugs can interact with them. Steroids should be avoided altogether, unless prescribed.
It’s a good idea to self-examine your testes monthly for abnormalities, lumps or swelling. Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in young men aged between 15-49 years of age. There is evidence that those with HIV may be more at risk.
In your 30s you’re probably relatively untouched by the normal effects of ageing which you’ll face further down the road. However busy you are, don’t neglect your health. Your 30s are important years for reducing the likelihood of potential problems later in life.
As you age your metabolism slows down. The body requires less energy and the body starts to store more body fat and less muscle mass. HIV can contribute to metabolic changes too which can increase the risk of heart disease. Lifestyle changes such as changing your diet and exercise routine can reduce your risks. If you have any concerns speak to your doctor.
Everyone living with HIV, regardless of age, should receive a flu jab as the risk of developing serious flu and related complications can be higher. Speak to your doctor about annual vaccines.
Some people can manage to eat a staggering 1,000 calories each time they visit a fast-food restaurant. Indulge just twice a week and that’s over 6 kilograms of extra weight in one year. In addition, some men may also experience HIV associated fat redistribution.
Smoking is the largest avoidable health risk in Europe. People living with HIV are at a higher risk of developing health complications if they smoke and this risk increases with age. If you haven’t already, consider stopping now. Speak to your doctor for help and advice on stopping.
Greyness and wrinkles should be the least of your worries in your 40s. Added responsibility, both at home and at work, can mean added pressure – and your health may take a back seat and suffer. Look out for signs and symptoms of ageing and take all the necessary health precautions now.
Almost every person faces mental health challenges at some point although 80% of suicides are men. Mental health can feel just as bad, or worse, as any other physical illness. Major stresses including a long-term illness, such as HIV, can have an impact on mental health and wellbeing. To get the right care, be open and honest with your healthcare team at your next appointment.
Even when it’s not sunny, up to 80% of the sun’s UV radiation still reaches the earth. Be safe and cover up! Speak to your doctor if you are concerned about any skin changes.
It is important to let your doctor know if you are taking any over the counter medications. Your doctor can check for any potential unwanted interactions with your HIV medications.
Typically, blood pressure increases with age and risks begin to climb when men hit their mid-40s. This can be accelerated by some HIV treatments, smoking, obesity and too much salt, which increase the risks of heart attack or stroke.
The risk of type 2 diabetes increases in your 40s regardless of HIV status. The risk is also higher for people living with HIV. It is good to plan ahead to reduce your future risks. Ask your doctor for your blood glucose results and talk to them about lifestyle changes you can make.
The kidneys have several functions – removing waste products and excess water, helping control your blood pressure, producing hormones and balancing the minerals in your body. Looking after them is important for your overall health. Men should aim to drink 2.5 litres of water per day. Some, but not all, HIV drugs can increase the risks of kidney disease. Speak to your doctor about your kidney test results.
By the time you’re in your 50s, you probably can’t escape the fact that you’re getting older – you may notice new aches and pains or changes in your wellbeing. There are a number of things to look out for.
Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in Europe, regardless of HIV status. Speak to your doctor about colorectal screening, which is recommended for everyone over the age of 50.
Europe has the highest prevalence of elevated cholesterol in the world, which is a major cause of heart disease and stroke. HIV itself and some treatments can also increase cholesterol. The risk of stroke and heart disease is further increased if you smoke and have high blood pressure. Speak to your doctor about your cholesterol blood test results.
Men in their 50s do not experience the rapid loss of bone mass that women do – but by the age of 65 or 70, it is similar. People living with HIV can be at an increased risk of losing bone mass so make sure your daily calcium and vitamin D intake is adequate and speak to your doctor about the best way to monitor and manage your bone health.
Prostate cancer mainly affects men over 50 and this risk increases with age. About 1 in 8 men will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives. Older men, men with a family history of prostate cancer and black Afro-Caribbean men are more at risk. There is no increased risk for men with HIV. Speak to your doctor if you have any concerns.
Sleeping patterns often change as you get older. Getting too little sleep can increase your risk for certain health problems. If you are having problems sleeping, speak to your doctor for help and advice.
Men living with HIV are at an increased risk of erectile dysfunction (not being able to get or keep an erection) at this age. It is important to tell your doctor as it can be a sign of another health problem such as diabetes, kidney disease and heart disease.
As you age, the liver becomes less active and less efficient at managing food and chemicals. Damage to the liver can occur more quickly if you are co-infected with hepatitis C virus or drink too much alcohol. Visit www.justapartofme.hiv to find out more about preventing co-infections and ask your doctor about your liver test results.
You’ve hit your 60s and may start enjoying a slower pace of life. Continue your healthy living regime throughout and beyond... your 60s and beyond to enjoy a good quality of life.
The risk of stroke increases as you age and certain factors can accelerate the process. These include HIV, smoking, high blood pressure (hypertension), obesity, high cholesterol levels, diabetes and an excessive alcohol intake. Visit www.justapartofme.hiv for healthy living tips and speak to your doctor about how to reduce your risks.
Many people living with HIV in older years are happy with their quality of life. Keeping active, socialising
and joining clubs or groups can improve wellbeing and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.
These are all a natural part of ageing. To maintain a good quality of life, discuss your nutritional needs and ways of keeping active with your healthcare team.
Having regular eye tests, wearing the right prescription and looking after your eyes gives you a better chance of your sight remaining clear. This will improve your quality of life and reduce the risk of accidents such as falls, which can lead to bone fractures. Ask your optician how regularly your eyes should be tested.