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How to Manage the Risk of Diabetes When HIV positive

Your lifestyle, including the food you eat, really does impact your health.

Your lifestyle, including the food you eat, really does impact your health.

We understand that coping with HIV is challenging enough for any patient, but the risk of acquiring Diabetes must not be forgotten. Any virus or bacteria is likely to impact your body’s immune system. This affects how your body copes with other health threats, either from the same condition or other trauma. While it’s possible to find a lot of information online, about improving your health, you must remember that no two bodies are the same. This makes it worth your while learning more about your own body, so never pass the chance to ask your doctor questions. You may learn fascinating things about why you’ve been given specific medicines, and why those may change over time.

With regards to cardiovascular health, HIV-related ailments usually receive more attention. Even though this is the norm, we’re here to unpack why Diabetes risk is higher if you’re HIV positive, than HIV negative. Tailoring lifestyle changes and nutritional plans with the help of a medical expert is beneficial in many ways. There are a number of factors which influence your plan: viral load; overall immune strength; pre-diabetic symptoms; cholesterol; blood pressure and others like resource access and availability of funds.

A Dietician’s advice

Clinical Dieticians are qualified to help find individualised plans for each and every patient. Usually, to effectively manage the risk of Diabetes, reduced energy intake and increased physical activity work hand in hand. Because everyone’s body reacts differently, it takes the insight of a qualified professional to help manage cravings, changes in appetite and food group ratios all effectively enough to maintain a healthy immune system and reach other health goals simultaneously. 

Dieticians, however, can be costly and difficult for a lot of people to access, especially in South Africa’s economy. Moreover, meal plans can drive families into debt if not carefully managed and tailored to the exact needs and capacity of each patient. In lieu of the ability to consult with a professional Clinical Dietician, HIV positive patients also have the option to consult with doctors, clinic staff and other medical practitioners. Internet resources can also be helpful but it’s important to choose credible sites like AllLife Insurance, to make sure that you’re finding relevant, useful and accurate information about your experience of HIV and/or Diabetes.

HIV & Diabetes research suggests…

  • HIV positive patients are more likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes than HIV negative people.
  • Some HIV medicines can actually increase the risk of Type 2 Diabetes in HIV positive people.
  • Diabetes risk includes, but isn’t limited to family history, weight management and levels of physical activity.
  • HIV positive patients might benefit from testing their blood glucose levels before beginning antiretrovirals (ARVs), and monitoring this with their medical practitioners.
  • ARVs impact everyone’s body differently and can drive up blood glucose levels.
  • ARVs and Diabetes medicines can react with each other, so it’s important to always keep doctors informed of medical developments.


Duncan, AD, Goff, LM, Peters, BS and Rivas, C.2019. Individual advice from dietitian helps people with HIV manage diabetes risk. Medical brief. 3 April. Available at: [Accessed 29 July 2019].

US Department of Health and Human Services. 2018. Side Effects of HIV Medicines. AIDSinfo. 26 November. Available at: [Accessed 29 July 2019].

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