Tips to help you man­age your weight gain

Move! - - CONTENTS - By Cle­ment Fana Ntuli

MANY peo­ple gain weight when they start tak­ing their an­tiretro­vi­ral drugs (ARVs). This leaves them puz­zled and even wor­ried about the changes hap­pen­ing to their bod­ies. It is there­fore im­por­tant to look at the is­sue of weight gain when you are liv­ing with HIV.


Gain­ing weight when you start tak­ing your ARVs is a pos­i­tive thing. You need to cher­ish that the med­i­ca­tion is ef­fec­tive in that your body is able to re­pair and build cells. The cir­cu­la­tion of nu­tri­ents in your body is good as your body is ad­e­quately sup­plied with nu­tri­ents.

In the process, your bones and tis­sues are get­ting stronger.


In one of the pre­vi­ous columns, I men­tioned lipodys­tro­phy, which is a prob­lem with the way your body makes, uses and stores fat. Some ARVs may cause this prob­lem due to the un­equal dis­tri­bu­tion of fats in your body. If you are gain­ing weight in your tummy area, up­per arms and per­haps los­ing it in some parts, it could be lipodys­tro­phy.

Check with your doc­tor if he or she can change your med­i­ca­tion. You can also start ex­er­cis­ing and chang­ing your diet, which will need more fi­bre.

Please note that in most cases, lipodys­tro­phy may be re­versed. But you will have to be pa­tient with the process of re­vers­ing it. Mean­while, do not stop tak­ing your med­i­ca­tion even if it has not been changed.


If you gain a lot of weight all around and do not like it, visit a di­eti­cian as they are trained to guide you through an eat­ing plan, which will en­sure you gain weight in a man­ner you are com­fort­able with.

In ad­di­tion, the di­eti­cian will en­sure what­ever you are eat­ing is nu­tri­tional and will make a suit­able con­tri­bu­tion in you liv­ing a healthy life with HIV.

While gain­ing weight when you start tak­ing your ARVs is a good thing, you need to be alert that it is hap­pen­ing in the right man­ner.

If it’s ex­ces­sive weight gain that is mak­ing you un­com­fort­able, ex­er­cis­ing cor­rectly and get­ting the right per­son to guide you with your eat­ing plan will help you.


Adopt a pos­i­tive mind­set about your sta­tus and em­brace liv­ing with the virus.

Fall in love with your med­i­ca­tion while ad­her­ing to tak­ing it.

Be­lieve that you can achieve so much with your life and avoid those who bring your spir­its down.

Treat any changes with cau­tion us­ing pro­fes­sional help. I have been liv­ing pos­i­tively with the virus for 22 years and I ap­ply th­ese things as I con­tinue to reach greater heights in my life. You too can do it.


Cle­ment Fana Ntuli is a mo­ti­va­tional speaker and author of the book Turning Tri­als Into Tri­umph. Do you have any HIV-re­lated ques­tions? Email your ques­tion to Cle­ment at clem­n­tuli@ya­

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