296 HIV and AIDS
as Long as
When a person has AIDS, the body’s immune system is no
longer able to fight off common infections and illnesses. The
immune system gets weaker with each illness, making it even less
able to fight infection the next time. Without treatment, this
continues until the person’s body is too weak to survive.
Preventing infections and illness is the best way to slow down
the weakening of the immune system. It is also important to treat
any infections to keep them from spreading or getting worse. This
way a person with AIDS can stay healthy for as long as possible.
Preventing some infections with medicines
For persons with HIV, regular use of the antibiotic cotrimoxazole helps prevent
pneumonia, diarrhea, and other infections. You should start taking it if you have
problems with weight loss, sores or cracks around your lips, itching rashes, shingles,
mouth ulcers, or frequent colds.
Take: cotrimoxazole 960 mg by mouth daily with plenty of water (2 tablets of
480 mg: 80 mg trimethoprim and 400 mg sulfamethoxazole). If possible, take it
every day whether you feel sick or not.
IMPORTANT Allergic reactions to cotrimoxazole are more common in persons with
AIDS. Stop taking it if you get a new skin rash or any other sign of drug allergy.
Some women have more problems with yeast infections of the vagina when they
take antibiotics. Eating yogurt or sour milk, or sitting in a bowl of water with yogurt
or vinegar in it can help. For more information on yeast infections of the vagina,
see page 265; for yeast of the skin, see page 300; and for yeast of the mouth, see
In some countries it is also recommended that people with HIV take medicines
to prevent tuberculosis (TB). See page 303 for information about TB.
living positively with
HIV infection, 290
HIV infection can be emotionally stressful. It is very common
for people living with HIV to feel afraid and tense (anxiety), or
very sad, or have no energy or pleasure in life. Anxiety and
depression can also weaken the body and make a person more
likely to get sick. Good mental health helps us stay healthy and
A health worker can help you tell the difference between
signs of illness that are caused by physical problems, and signs
that are caused by anxiety or depression. Knowing the cause
of a problem may make it easier to treat. It is possible to
overcome feelings of anxiety and depression. See a counselor
or join a support group to get help.
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012