Living Well

Aunt Rita’s Foundation provides support for various organizations that serve people with HIV/AIDS. Many volunteer opportunities are available to assist with a wide range of fund raising activities. For more information, visit www.auntritas.org

Life goes on after being diagnosed with HIV and maintaining your medical care will promote a better quality of life. HIV attacks the immune system which can contribute to the development of other diseases. It is important to have regular checkups with your physician not only to monitor your HIV, but also to maintain your general health. For example, it's important to have regular pap smears and tests for tuberculosis. For more information see below: 

Arizona HIV
Avella Specialty Pharmacy Mobile App
MIHS HIV Resouces 
Healthy Arizona 
Finding Health Information
The Body: the complete HIV/AIDS Resource  

Planning for Medication Side Effects
Most medications have side effects, including your HIV drugs. The goal of HIV treatment is to find the best medications to help you stay healthy, with the least amount of side effects. Most reactions to HIV drugs (such as headache, upset stomach, and feeling tired) are common, and will go away with time. Even though these side effects are normal, they're still frustrating and difficult to deal with. Many people choose not to stay on HIV treatment because of how they feel while taking them. 

Creating a plan for dealing with side effects, and sticking to it, can help you stay on track. Your medical provider can help you figure out which side effects are serious, and which you can deal with yourself. Understanding your medications can prepare you for these potential side effects, so you don't fall out of care. Here's a list of questions to bring and ask your doctor about your HIV drugs:

What are the names of my drugs? 
What do the drugs do?
What is the best time of the day to take them?
Do I take them with or without food?
Should I avoid any foods or other medications when taking these drugs?
What are the most common side effects?
Are there side effects that can be serious?
What should I do if my side effects are serious and your office is closed?

To learn more about the possible side effects of HIV treatment, visit: Office of Women's Health  

Viral Load & Your Health
A big part of staying healthy with HIV is finding the treatment that works for you, and sticking with it. Keeping your lab and medical appointments can be difficult. Understanding what your provider looks for in your lab results, and how it can help you manage HIV, might make it easier.

What is my provider looking for?
One of the most important thing that your provider will monitor is your viral load. Viral load is the amount of HIV virus in your blood sample.

Why is viral load important?
A viral load test can give you information about your health status. The goal of HIV  medications is to lower your viral load as much as possible, for as long as possible. Tracking your viral load with your provider can help you understand how well your HIV treatment is working. if your viral load is high, or if it increases, the treatment may not be controlling the virus. If your viral load is low, or if it decreases, the treatment may be working, and you viral load may become suppressed or undetectable.

Suppressed? Undetectable?
Your viral load is suppressed when the amount of HIV in your blood sample is under 200. Your viral load is undetectable when the amount of HIV in your blood sample is so low that the test can't find it; generally under 40-75. This doesn't mean you're cured. But, a suppressed or undetectable viral load helps to keep your HIV under control, decrease disease complications, and reduce your chance of infecting others.

To learn more about what to expect when monitoring your health, visit: What Can I Expect At My Regular Medical Visits?