HIV AND DIABETES
You know your HIV viral load but do you know your risk for diabetes?
It’s important to know your blood sugar levels. Here you can find information on how to monitor and prevent diabetes, to enjoy lifelong good health with HIV.
Read below to find out more about:
- What causes diabetes and the risk factors (including hepatitis C infection)
- A real-life story about living with HIV, including why it’s important to understand your risk for diabetes
- Different types of diabetes to be aware of
- What to do if you are already living with diabetes
To help you plan for your next appointment and helpful questions to ask, go to What To Ask for tips and downloadable questions.
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?
Some of the HIV medications used to treat HIV can be associated with an increased risk of diabetes. It’s important to know if you’re on the best treatment for you; ask your healthcare team what your options are.
THE HIV VIRUS ITSELF
Over time, the virus itself can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. Talk to your healthcare team about regularly checking your blood sugar levels. There are apps you can download to monitor your diabetes.
HEPATITIS C INFECTION
Some people with HIV infection may also have an increased risk of hepatitis C infection. If you are living with both HIV and hepatitis C it is important to be aware that hepatitis C is also associated with insulin ‘resistance’ (where your body doesn’t respond properly to insulin to control blood sugar levels) and diabetes.
MORE ABOUT DIABETES
THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF DIABETES
- Type 1 diabetes, make up for 10% of people living with diabetes. The reasons why people develop type 1 diabetes are still unclear
- Type 2 diabetes, which makes up 90% of cases and is influenced by lifestyle factors, such as diet and exercise
In type 2 diabetes, the body doesn’t make enough of or respond properly to the hormone insulin. Insulin moves sugar from your blood into each cell in your body for energy. A build-up of sugar in the blood can cause serious health complications, so must be well-managed.
A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
It is estimated that more than half of type 2 diabetes cases can be delayed or prevented by following a healthy lifestyle.
People who are overweight or large around the middle (have a large waist measurement) are at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, but this risk can be lowered by following a healthy diet and being physically active.
CAN HIV CAUSE DIABETES?
Type 2 diabetes is usually caused by a mixture of two things:
- Things you can’t change - Genetic reasons, such as family history and ethnicity
- Things you can - Lifestyle choices, such as an unhealthy diet and little exercise
Although scientists are still unsure about the exact reasons why, people with HIV are up to four times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than people without HIV. However, there are a number of things you can do to lower your chances of ever developing type 2 diabetes or delay its onset.
AM I AT RISK?
To assess your risk of developing diabetes, your healthcare team might:
- Review your lifestyle choices, particularly diet and exercise
- Work out your Body Mass Index (BMI – this is a calculation of your risk based on weight and height)
- Ask your family history of diabetes
- Consider your age and your ethnicity
- Check your blood pressure
- Check your blood sugar levels during your routine blood tests
- Review the medications you are on, including HIV medications
WHAT IF I ALREADY HAVE TYPE 2 DIABETES?
Both diabetes and HIV can be well-managed and you will be encouraged to:
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet
- Be physically active
- Monitor your blood sugar levels regularly
Your healthcare team will be aware of any additional things to think about if you have diabetes, such as:
- How different HIV medications work together
- Whether you need more regular check-ups than someone without HIV
Talk to your healthcare team if you have any concerns or questions about what else you can do to look after your health