Living with HIV: How Living with HIV Affects your Lifestyle

Living with HIV is a journey. Living with HIV will affect your lifestyle, as you pursue good health while HIV-positive. In this article, Cindy Pivacic outlines how living with HIV affects your lifestyle. 

HIV is a chronic illness

HIV is now considered a chronic illness that can be managed with a combination of ARV treatment and living a healthy lifestyle. Chronic illnesses have disease-identifiable symptoms. Many chronic illnesses, however, have invisible symptoms, including pain, lethargy and mood disorders. Pain and fatigue may become a regular part of your daily life. You will probably have certain things to do to take care of yourself, like taking medication and exercising to relieve your condition.

Chronic illness and your lifestyle

A chronic illness might affect factors of your daily life and that of your family. Some of the top chronic conditions in South Africa, according to the CDC, include:

  • HIV and AIDS.
  • Ischemic heart disease.
  • Stroke.
  • Lower respiratory infections.
  • Diabetes.
  • Tuberculosis.

Chronic illness cover

Approximately twenty-seven chronic conditions in South Africa have cover from medical aid and some insurance companies. I love the insurance cover I have is a ‘no questions asked’ and no tests conducted, setup. Chronic illness, however, does affect your lifestyle, and can affect your family members too. 

Preventing chronic illness

While not all chronic illnesses can be avoided entirely, you can lower your risk of developing a chronic illness through: 

  • Healthy eating: Your nutrition plays a big role in preventing, delaying, and managing Heart Disease, Type 2 Diabetes, and other chronic illnesses.
  • Exercise: Ensuring you enjoy regular exercise will help you stay healthy. 
  • Avoiding alcohol and tobacco products.
  • Ensuring you stay up to date with your medical checkups, and undergo regular preventative screening and monitoring.
  • Sticking to a regular sleep schedule.
  • Understanding more about your family’s medical history. 

Living with a chronic illness

If you are living with a chronic illness, it’s important to ensure that your support system is well placed to give you the type of help and guidance you need. Similarly, goal setting can be very empowering when living with a chronic health condition. Daily lifestyle behavioural choices that enhance your health can be very satisfying and rewarding. I suggest you: 

  • Leverage the power of lists: Make a list of what your ailment prevents you from doing, then make a list of hacks for each limitation.
  • Give yourself permission to surrender and accept your limitations: Sometimes the key to managing a chronic illness is eliminating some of the tasks you used to regard as essentials. Learn to accept your limitations. If you can only walk 1 kilometre instead of 5 kilometres, so be it. The fact that you are trying is in itself an achievement.
  • Adapt to the life you want with the life you have:One of the hardest things to cope with when you have a chronic illness is that your life between what you want and the way it truly is, will never be the same again. It is up to you how much you allow your mind and body to achieve. You may need to give your career and life plan a makeover. Restructuring your life may be challenging, with the right mindset and support is achievable.
  • Find a support group for people also living with your condition: Peer support does wonders for recovery. You may be self-conscious speaking to your family and friends about your condition, hence the suggestion to find a support group with the same concerns and reluctance.

My journey of living with a chronic illness 

When I was diagnosed with HIV, AIDS, TB Meningitis, Pneumonia, two Strokes, and Cancer within a four-year period (2004 – 2008) I assumed this was the end for me. Fortunately, after some mindful self-talk I realised that I am too stubborn to take my health conditions lying down. Then, in 2018, I had a massive heart attack and refused to let this setback get me down or feel sorry for myself as I had too much that I wanted to see and do. I put practices such as hiking, walking, rebounding, weight loss into place that suited my new way of living a slightly modified life. If I, at this age, can make adjustments without regrets and a new outlook, so can you!

A chronic condition can affect anyone. How you manage it is what makes the difference. You can get coverage of up to 1 million Rand for your chronic health condition and up to 10 million  if you are living with HIV, with AllLife. 

We believe all South Africans should have Life Cover.

Another first from AllLife who have always believed that all South Africans should have Life Cover, regardless of their health.

You are guaranteed a minimum of R 3 Million Life Cover without any medical test, but you could qualify for up to R 10 Million depending on your circumstances.

Life Cover to secure your family financially when they need it most.

  • No medicals for Life Cover for up to R 3 million
  • Life cover for people between the ages of 18 – 75
  • Paperless application
  • Unlimited beneficiaries

All it takes is one phone call, and you could be covered today.

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