Living with HIV requires taking care of yourself and taking extra precautions to ensure your health, such as preventing STDs and other infections. Learn how to practice a healthy lifestyle to better manage HIV.

When you’re living with this disorder, it’s more important than ever to protect your immune system to maintain overall health. By keeping your body as healthy as possible, it’s much better equipped to fight off viruses and other types of infections, says Kristin Englund, MD, associate staff member of the department of infectious disease at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

People living with this disorder need to incorporate healthy habits into their lifestyle. Follow these eight tips for healthy living with this disorder 1. Practice safe sex. This is paramount on the list. Says Dr. Englund, “Practicing safe sex is essential.” Understand how the virus is transmitted to reduce the risk of infecting others. Use condoms not only to avoid the spread of HIV, but also to protect both you and your partner against other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and other types of infections.

2. Get tested for other STDs. If you have another STD, also known as sexually transmitted infections, or STIs, you may be more likely to transmit both this disorder and your other STD to someone else. STDs can also worsen HIV and make the disease progress more rapidly. And this disorder can make STDs more difficult to treat, so you’ll want to address an STD as soon as possible. Getting tested is a must because many STDs don’t cause any symptoms — without testing, you may not even realize you have one.

3. Prevent infections and illnesses. Since this disorder makes your immune system less effective, you become more susceptible to every virus, bacteria, and germ you’re exposed to. Wash your hands frequently, and stay away from sick people to stay as healthy as possible. Also stay up-to-date on all of your vaccinations to reduce your risk of preventable illnesses.

4. Follow doctor’s orders about your prescriptions. It’s crucial to take your this disorder medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Skipping even one day of medication can give the virus an opportunity to become resistant to the drugs, making them ineffective against the virus, says Englund. Be sure to take prescriptions at the same time every day, and always have your medication with you so that if you are away from home, you won’t have to miss a dose.

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