Justin's HIV Journal

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Justin’s HIV Journal: Justin Discloses His HIV Status…….AT WORK !!

When I came out of the closet I didn’t think I would have to do it again, especially at work. This took a lot for me to do. Actually on my facebook I changed my status to say, “Justin B Smith just disclosed his HIV status to his Boss”. Doing that single action started a discussion, which at times did get a little heated. People asked a lot about why someone would do that. Other compared it to their sexuality. I didn’t want to interrupt the flow of the discussion so I didn’t interject or give why my reason why I did that until about the 25th comment.

The reason why I told my Boss is because I needed to snack during the day. My lunch is from 12:30pm-1:30pm and I need to snack twice a day. People who have HIV need to have more nutrients in there daily live than people who are HIV negative. They way I usually do this is pills and food. I do both because I wasn’t to stay at the top of my game and stay healthy. I try to drink Ensure as well to help with maintaining my weight.

Why should I have to keep my status secret anyways? People tell me I wear it on my sleeve, but if I don’t then how can it be easier for the next person. The more we talk about HIV/AIDS the better off our community will be. I don’t understand why people don’t want to talk about HIV/AIDS. This disease has bought our community as a whole in a cave of disparity.

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Here are some nutrient and eating facts according to Living Well With HIV/AIDS
When infected with the HIV virus the body's defence system - the immune system - works harder to fight infection. This increases energy and nutrient requirements. Further infection and fever also increase the body's demand for food. Once people are infected with HIV they have to eat more to meet these extra energy and nutrient needs. Such needs will increase even further as the HIV/AIDS symptoms develop.

HIV/AIDS reduces food intake
People with HIV/AIDS often do not eat enough because:
• the illness and the medicines taken for it may reduce the appetite, modify the taste of food and prevent the body from absorbing it;
• symptoms such as a sore mouth, nausea and vomiting make it difficult to eat;
• tiredness, isolation and depression reduce the appetite and the willingness to make an effort to prepare food and eat regularly;
• there is not enough money to buy food.

HIV/AIDS reduces the absorption of food
Food, once eaten, is broken down by digestion into nutrients. These nutrients pass through the gut walls into the bloodstream and are transported to the organs and tissues in the body where they are needed. One of the consequences of HIV and other infections is that since the gut wall is damaged, food does not pass through properly and is consequently not absorbed.
Diarrhoea is a common occurrence in people with HIV/AIDS. When a person has diarrhoea the food passes through the gut so quickly that it is not properly digested and fewer nutrients are absorbed.
Reduced food intake and absorption lead to weight loss and malnutrition.

When a person does not eat enough food, or the food eaten is poorly absorbed, the body draws on its reserve stores of energy from body fat and protein from muscle. As a result, the person loses weight because body weight and muscles are lost.
The weight loss may be so gradual that it is not obvious. There are two basic ways to discover whether weight is being lost.
• Weigh the person on the same day once a week and keep a record of the weight and date (see sample sheet in Annex 4). For an average adult, serious weight loss is indicated by a 10 percent loss of body weight or 6-7 kg in one month. If a person does not have scales at home it might be possible to make an arrangement with a chemist, clinic or local health unit to weigh him or her.
• When clothes become loose and no longer fit properly.
If a person loses weight he or she needs to take action to increase weight to the normal level.

Weight is gained by eating more food, either by eating larger portions and/or eating meals more frequently, using a variety of foods as described in the previous chapter. Here are some suggestions for gaining weight:
• Eat more staple foods such as rice, maize, millet, sorghum, wheat, bread, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams and bananas.
• Increase intake of beans, soy products, lentils, peas, groundnuts, peanut butter and seeds, such as sunflower and sesame.
• Include all forms of meat, poultry, fish and eggs as often as possible. Minced meat, chicken and fish are easier to digest. Offal (such as kidney and liver) can be the least expensive source.
• Eat snacks regularly between meals. Good snacks are nuts, seeds, fruit, yoghurt, carrots, cassava crisps, crab crisps and peanut butter sandwiches.
• Slowly increase the fat content of the food by using more fats and oils, as well as eating fatty foods - oilseeds such as groundnuts, soy and sesame, avocados and fatty meat. If problems with a high fat intake are experienced (especially diarrhoea), reduce the fat intake until the symptoms are over and then gradually increase it to a level that the body can tolerate.
• Introduce more dairy products such as full-cream milk, sour milk, buttermilk, yoghurt and cheese into the diet.
• Add dry milk powder to foods such as porridge, cereals, sauces and mashed potatoes. However, do not use coffee and tea whiteners, which do not have the same nutritional benefits as milk. Note that some people may find milk difficult to digest. It should be avoided if it causes cramps, a feeling of being full or skin rashes.
• Add sugar, honey, jam, syrup and other sweet products to the food.
• Make meals as attractive as possible.
• Recipes following these recommendations for gaining weight are provided in Annex 1.
Increasing the number of meals and snacks in a day. If poor appetite persists or the person is ill, it is a good idea to spread the food intake throughout the day. Snacks should be included in the daily meal plan.
• A snack is any nutritious food that is readily available and can be eaten without much preparation. Good snacks are nuts, seeds, fruit, yoghurt, carrots, cassava chips, crab chips and peanut butter sandwiches. With at least three meals a day and snacks in between, there is less likelihood of malnutrition or weight loss.
• If a person needs to stay in bed, food and water should be kept within easy reach.
• Carers should ensure that sick members of the family are given preference, fed more frequently and receive extra servings to maintain their weight and strength. Food should be served in an attractive way. Carers need to be kind, while frequently encouraging people to eat.