Q and A

Question

Why have I not put on weight?

l have been been on ARVs for over 3 years now. l have never gained weight and after starting and still only weigh 59 kg Is there a problem with medication? Also, I have reduced sexual interest and mostly i feel less energetic than before. I live in Kenya. Please advise on this.

Answer

Thanks for getting in touch.

The information below is very general. Without knowing your current height and the weight your think you should be (ie before you were positive) it is difficult. Your CD4 history might be important if this ever became low or is still low – when stomach infections cause diarrhoea and reduce absorption of food.

It is helpful to know you are in Kenya but you didn’t give your gender or how old you are or other things that would be important when talking about health.

Although most people put on weight over the first six months of HIV treatment (ART) we often get questions from people when this doesn’t happen.

What has your doctor said about your weight? Talking to your doctor is important.

This i-Base services is not run by doctors, so we can’t diagnose symptoms. Your doctor will also look at your overall health, including diet, exercise and other health issues but also test to see if other infections might be related to weight loss.

Many HIV positive people report reduced interest in sex it is more common. Often this  is  linked to social factors about HIV and stigma but this is also realted to how you feel about yourself. If you are woried about your weight this might make you less interested in sex.

Low testosterone levels can affect sex drive in both men and women, but this is also affected by age as testosterone levels decrease as we get older.

Lack of sex drive can all be due to a mixture of things including HIV infection, psychological factors, depression, smoking, alcohol consumption, age and medicines for other infections can also decrease libido. Men have several treatments for erectile dysfunction.

It would be good to know how your life has changed since you have become HIV positive? It is easy to become more isolated and become less social. Do you have a partner or friends who know your status? Are you accessing enough support? All of these factors, however unrelated they feel, will have a psychological impact on your sex drive and erectile dysfunction.

Talking to your HIV doctor about these factors may help and they can often refer to specialists if needed.

HIV and sexual health.
http://i-base.info/guides/side/sexual-health

Guide with information on diet and exercise.
http://i-base.info/guides/side

Information about talking to your doctor.
http://i-base.info/guides/side/how-to-talk-to-dr-about-side-effects

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