HIV-associated Wasting may occur even when the virus is well controlled with antiretroviral therapy
If left untreated, HIV-associated Wasting can have serious consequences.
Learn more about starting a conversation with your healthcare provider below.
What are some of the symptoms of HIV-associated Wasting?
There are three key elements of HIV-associated Wasting:
Who may be impacted by HIV-associated Wasting?
There isn’t just one type of person who experiences HIV-associated Wasting. This condition can affect a variety of people living with HIV, including:
- HIV Long-Term Survivors
- Those who have undetectable viral loads and normal CD4 counts
- Those on antiretrovirals who have had an acute infection, such as pneumonia
- Those who are newly diagnosed on antiretrovirals
It’s important to address HIV-associated Wasting as soon as possible— don’t wait to speak to your healthcare provider
HIV-associated Wasting can be associated with poor physical function, faster disease progression, and even an increased risk of death. Only a healthcare provider can diagnose HIV-associated Wasting.
Here are some potential conversation starters:
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What can cause HIV-associated Wasting?
The exact cause of HIV-associated Wasting isn’t known, but experts believe it can be caused by one or more of the following:
- Infections may cause changes in metabolism and increase the body’s caloric needs
- The need for increased energy coupled with decreased nutrient intake may result in unintentional weight loss and energy loss
- Due to their compromised immune systems, people living with HIV may be at a greater risk for infection. cART (combination antiretroviral therapy) is unable to restore the immune system or resolve the infection
- Inflammation is a natural response to infection, stress, trauma, or cell injury in the body
- Even when the virus is controlled, inflammation may continue to occur
- Chronic inflammation can cause the breakdown of muscle tissue and decreased appetite, leading to weight loss and loss of lean body mass
- Metabolism is how the body turns food into energy
- When metabolism becomes abnormal, the body may break down carbohydrates and proteins at an excessive rate
- If this happens, energy is drawn from lean body mass, which means a loss of muscle, organ tissue, blood cells, bone, and water
- GH is made up of several substances secreted by the pituitary gland that support growth of the body
- GH helps maintain bone and skeletal muscle in the body
- GH resistance is a failure to process and respond to GH that occurs naturally in the body
- When the body resists or has difficulty using GH the body makes naturally, or if the body is not making enough GH, a loss of lean body mass may occur
- The gastrointestinal system absorbs nutrients, electrolytes, and water into the body
- Layers in the intestinal wall defend against toxins and microorganisms that may harm the body
- HIV may disrupt this system, leading to changes in how nutrients are absorbed and the rate at which the body breaks down proteins
- When the body doesn't absorb enough nutrients or breaks down proteins too quickly, loss of weight and lean body mass may occur
- There are several causes of diarrhea, including
- Bacterial and viral infections
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Intestinal disease
- Food intolerances
- Reactions to medications
- Diarrhea may result in abdominal pain, dehydration, and weight loss
- The testicles in males and, to a lesser extent, the ovaries in females produce the hormone testosterone
- Testosterone helps with maintaining muscle mass, bone growth, adequate red blood cell levels, and sexual function
- Low levels of testosterone may lead to a significant loss of lean body mass, as well as a reduction in the ability to exercise
Remember, a healthy diet and exercise are also important
View the short videos below to get some quick nutrition and exercise tips. These tips are not a substitute for your healthcare provider's expertise. Talk to your healthcare provider about how to develop the best nutrition and exercise plan for you.
There are many options to help with one or more symptoms of HIV-associated Wasting.
Talk to your healthcare provider about your options and click below to learn more.