15 Ways to Live to be 100 When You Have HIV

An HIV diagnosis was once a death sentence, but that is no longer the case for those of us who stay healthy. In fact, the average HIV-positive person today is expected to live to be nearly 80, roughly on par with the general population. As more and more people reaching the century mark, here's a list of the best things you can do — besides adhering to your medication regimen — that'll help you have a long, healthy life.

BY Michelle Garcia

March 07 2014 11:11 AM ET UPDATED: March 07 2014 11:11 AM ET

 1. Keep Your Head in the Game

Depression, stress, and anxiety are tough for people to overcome, but these conditions can also harm your immune system. Psychotherapist Melissa Lopez works with her HIV-positive patients to develop a plan once their moods start to sour.

''When you're already working with a compromised immune system, pre-depression or anxiety can bring on a lack of motivation,'' she says, which can lead to people slacking on their meds. Lopez suggests finding a professional counselor, especially when you're first diagnosed with HIV, to form a plan to deal with anxiety, depression, or other negative feelings. '

'Know the symptoms of depression, know the symptoms of anxiety, so you know what's happening to you,'' she says. ''You have to be proactive to prevent another, deeper cycle of depression.''

2. Beat Back the Blues

Even when things don't seem like they're going your way, looking at things with a positive attitude may be enough to help you get through a tough situation, and even live longer. One study indicated that people in their 20s who used mostly positive, affirmative words to describe themselves were more likely to live into their 80s than those with negative outlooks. Additionally, people with a more positive view of life tend to have fewer strokes, coronary problems, injuries, and colds, and positive-thinking women have healthier pregnancies.

3. Nurture Your Gut

The lymphoid tissues in a person's stomach are filled with T cells. Because HIV affects T cells, many people with HIV have gastrointestinal problems, but a healthy GI tract is crucial to proper absorption of antiretroviral medication. Some anti-HIV meds need to be taken with food to assure this absorption and avoid potential side effects such as diarrhea. Many HIV-positive folks could also benefit from probiotics and a high-fiber diet, APLA's expert Brian Risley says.

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