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:
Nourish your body.
Eat healthy food, drink plenty of water, and get restful sleep. Talk to your provider about how much excerise is okay for you.
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 provider.
Practice safe 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 every 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 provider about getting help to stop.
Talk with your provider if you can't stop drinking, taking drugs, or having unsafe sex. VA has resources available to help. If you already get services from an AIDS organization, ask about support groups for people who have HIV and hepatitis C.
HIV and hepatitis C are two of the most important medical issues today. Try to educate yourself about them. Ask your provider if you need help making sense of anything you hear on the news or read about online.
Excellent treatments are available for both HIV and hepatitis C. 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 your health, and receiving treatment also reduces the chance of transmitting infection to others.
Follow your provider's advice.
Follow all instructions you get from your provider. Try to keep all of your appointments. Call your provider 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 to protect you from hepatitis A and B.
Avoid taking medicines, supplements, 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 provider before you take any natural or herbal remedy, supplement, prescription, or non-prescription medicine. And, make sure your provider knows all the medicines you are taking for HIV and hepatitis C.