Living with HIV: Life Expectancy and Nutrition Tips

Living with HIV: Life Expectancy and Nutrition Tips

While the original prognosis for someone diagnosed with HIV wasn’t very good, a lot has changed in how medicine and science have developed. With the proper treatment and care, most people with HIV can live an average lifespan, with excellent long-term prospects. This assumes that the individual was diagnosed within a reasonable time and has decent access to medical care. It’s important to note that those HIV-positive patients can still have a normal life (including relationships). Many medications, including PrEP, can reduce the risk of passing HIV on to others (assuming they take the medicines properly), but prep effectiveness should be discuss with your doctor.

What influences someone’s life expectancy with HIV?

There are multiple variables that can influence someone’s life expectancy, especially when it comes to socio-economic advantage and treatment opportunities. If individuals have access to effective HIV treatment and high-quality care, they’ll likely do better than someone without such a luxury. Likewise, starting treatment as soon as possible can significantly improve the long-term prospect. Someone that delays treatment is likely to suffer from the illness. Individuals with other health conditions are likely to struggle with their HIV diagnosis, making it more likely to be the cause of death.

People who are diagnosed and respond well to treatment within the first year are more likely to achieve an undetectable viral load. These people should have a higher life expectancy than someone that does not do well with treatment. Lifestyle, including nutrition, plays a vital role in the overall prognosis of the condition.

Why Does Nutrition Connect to HIV?

Good nutrition can impact your body in a multitude of ways when you’re HIV-positive. For starters, it improves the overall quality of life. Nutrient-dense foods can keep your immune system more robust as you fight the disease. Additionally, it can help your body process the medications and help mitigate the side effects. HIV can be a difficult disease to handle, knowing you’re giving your body the best chance it has to recover and adapt is critical.

How to Incorporate Nutrition Into Your Diet

It’s essential to eat a well-balanced diet, complete with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Individuals will want to opt for low-fat protein sources while limiting sweets, processed food, soft drinks, and added sugar.


Carbohydrates work to give your body energy, which can keep you healthy overall. You’ll want to eat between five and six portions a day of at least fruits and vegetables. Opt for a rainbow of color when choosing your plate of food. Any legumes or whole grains should be whole-wheat. Brown rice and quinoa, oats, and barley may be acceptable alternatives. For people with diabetes, opt for carbohydrates from vegetables instead of processed foods.


Fat helps your body with extra energy. 30% of your daily calories should come from fat, with seeds, fish, avocado, and oils being safe options to eat regularly. Minimize any saturated fats (from fatty meat or whole-milk dairy).


Protein is an integral part of nutrition, helping build muscle, keeping a strong immune system, and optimized organs. Aim for 80-100 grams a day if you’re an HIV-positive woman. If you’re an HIV-positive man, you’ll want 100-150 grams daily. Lean or extra lean options are always healthier choices, staying away from fatty meats or gristle. Peanut butter, low-fat dairy, and canned fish are all great alternatives to meat products when it comes to your protein intake.


Calories give your body fuel to function throughout the day. To maintain lean mass, you’ll want to increase your calories. If you’re trying to maintain your weight, you’ll want to consume 17 calories per pound of body weight. If you’re losing weight (unintentionally), increase the caloric intake to 25 calories per pound. Use these calories to provide nutrient-dense foods for your body. Avoid empty filler foods like processed products, high-fat, greasy, or “junk food.” You can enjoy the occasional treat if you’re feeling up to it, but you want to focus on the foods that will help your body from the inside out.

Asheley Rice

I am a pop culture and social media expert. Aside from writing about the latest news health, I also enjoy pop culture and Yoga. I have BA in American Cultural Studies and currently enrolled in a Mass-Media MA program. I like to spend my spring breaks volunteering overseas.

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