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What can you do to slow down your HIV and hepatitis C infections?

What can you do to slow down your HIV and hepatitis C infections?

The best way to keep your coinfection from becoming a serious health problem is to keep yourself and your liver healthy by following these guidelines:

Respect your body.
Eat healthy food, drink plenty of water, and get restful sleep. Try to exercise every day.

Do not drink alcohol.
Alcohol weakens your immune system and damages your liver even when you are healthy. Drinking alcohol when you have HIV and hepatitis C makes the damage much worse. Remember, there is no "safe" amount of alcohol you can drink when you have HIV and hepatitis C. It doesn't help to switch from "hard" liquor to beer, cider, or wine. If you need help to stop drinking alcohol, talk to your doctor.

Don't have unsafe sex.
Practicing safer sex is the best way to keep other people from getting HIV. Hepatitis C isn't spread as easily as HIV by having sex. But you can still give hepatitis C to someone you have sex with, if you're not careful. If you have sex, the best thing to do is practice safer sex all the time. To do so, always use a condom, dental dam, or other latex barrier and avoid "rough sex" or other activities that might cause bleeding.

Do not use injection drugs.
Remember that drugs like heroin, cocaine, and speed (crystal, meth, crank, Tina) can make your illness worse. The best thing to do, especially if you have hepatitis C or HIV, is not use drugs. If you use drugs, make sure that your needle and works are clean (or brand new) every time and never share them with anyone else. Sharing needles or works to inject drugs is one of the easiest ways to spread hepatitis C and HIV. By sharing needles or works, you can even spread both of these viruses at the same time. Talk to your doctor about getting help to stop.

Get support.
Talk with your doctor if you can't stop drinking, taking drugs, or having unsafe sex. Ask your doctor where you can get support in your area. If you already get services from an AIDS organization, ask about support groups for people who have HIV and hepatitis C.

Stay informed.
HIV and hepatitis C are two of the most important medical issues today. Try to educate yourself about them. Ask your doctor if you need help making sense of anything you hear on the news or read in the newspapers.

Get treated.
Excellent treatments are available for both HIV and hepatitis C, and more medications for hepatitis C are expected soon. Treatment for HIV controls the HIV virus and protects the immune system but does not cure the infection. Treatment for hepatitis C can cure the infection. Treatment for these two infections is important for the health of the coinfected individual, and receiving treatment also reduces the chance of transmitting infection to others.

Follow your doctor's advice.
Follow all instructions you get from your doctor. Try to keep all of your appointments. Call your doctor immediately if you have any problems.

Get vaccinated against other hepatitis viruses.
Having hepatitis C does not mean that you can't get other kinds of hepatitis. Talk to your doctor about getting vaccinations (or shots) to protect you from hepatitis A and B.

Avoid taking medicines, supplements or natural or herbal remedies that might cause more damage to your liver.
Even ordinary pain relievers can cause liver problems in some people. Check with your doctor before you take any natural or herbal remedy, supplement, prescription, or non-prescription medicine. And, make sure your doctor knows all the medicines you are taking for HIV and hepatitis C.