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How to Happily Make it Through the Holidays with HIV

How to Happily Make it Through the Holidays with HIV

Many people look forward to the joys of the holiday season – good food, lots of parties, time spent with family and friends. But for people living with HIV, being able to enjoy the holiday season can be a real challenge. 

When you live with HIV you're unable to check the physical symptoms that come with it at the door with your coats at the party. People living with HIV need real solutions – ones that talk about how to get out of the house and live their lives. Here are some tips I've learned that have made them much more managable and less anxiety ridden.

Get Support from Your Doctor  Communicate with your doctor about your symptoms. For example, one of the most common symptoms that tend to stop patients living with HIV from enjoying the holidays is diarrhea. It may be uncomfortable to discuss, but there are treatment options that may be right for you.

Treatments for Diarrhea Exist  Ask your doctor about Mytesi (crofelemer), which is a prescription drug now available – the first and only antidiarrheal drug that was specifically studied in and FDA-approved for people living with HIV. You are not alone, 1 in 5 people living with HIV report experiencing diarrhea. Visit: to learn more.

Traveling a long distance?  If you have a prescription that needs to be refrigerated, wrap it in a cold pack in your luggage. If your medication needs to be taken with food, be sure to pack a snack. Also, check with your pharmacy in advance to make sure you have enough medication to get you through the holidays.

Stay Healthy  Try to organize the best you can to be ready for physical stress of the holiday parties. It is important to get enough sleep and exercise, eat healthy and take your meds on time. If you have a lot going on during the holiday season, set alerts/calendar reminders on when to take your meds! Since you will be surrounded by multiple people during the holidays, it is very important to always protect your immune system. Bring hand sanitizer with you and wash your hands frequently.

Keep Your Mind Right = Keeping Your Body Right  Sit down and look at the calendar for the upcoming holiday season. If there are events you know you want to attend, be sure to plan how to make it happen in advance so you won’t be stressed at the last minute!

Don’t Overdo   Say no when you have reached your limit – physical, social and emotional.

Most Importantly: Trust Yourself Listen to your own voice: Focus on enjoying the holidays in the perfect way that makes you happy, comfortable, and healthy. Ultimately remember, the holidays will end and life will return to a more normal routine.


Josh Robbins publishes I'm Still Josh! the popular HIV blog the runs that's been featured on MTV, ABC News and The Huffington Post.

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