Lifestyle changes are part of your care plan. This may involve:

General Guidelines for Managing HIV


Lowering Your Risk of Infections and Keeping Your Immune System Healthy

If you have HIV, your immune system may not be able to fight off other infections. To lower your risk of infections and keep your immune system as healthy as possible:

  • Wash your hands often. Do so always after using the bathroom and before preparing food.
  • Clean under your fingernails.
  • Use hand cream to prevent dry skin.
  • Cover any cuts or sores.
  • Try to stay away from others who are sick.
  • Keep up with any vaccines you need.
  • Don't touch cat litter boxes or stool.
  • Don't touch bird droppings or fish tank water.
  • Wear gloves when gardening.
  • Keep the house clean, using bleach to clean toilets.
  • Don't eat raw eggs, fish, or shellfish.
  • Eat meats, poultry, and fish that are cooked to well-done.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before eating.
  • Eat a healthful, well balanced diet.
  • Manage stress.
  • Don't smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Keep up with your doctor visits. Ask questions about any upcoming events such as travel. Your doctor can help you lower the risk of infections.

Preventing the Spread of HIV to Others

Having sex or sharing needles with another person spreads HIV.

To keep HIV from spreading to others:

  • If you're having sex, use a male latex condom. Sex is any act that results in the exchange of bodily fluids.
  • Talk to your former or new sex partners that you have HIV.
  • Don't share your items, such as razors, toothbrushes, or tweezers with others
  • Don't donate blood, tissue, fluids, or organs.
  • Talk to your doctor about contraception options.
  • If you have a baby, don't breastfeed. The virus can be transmitted to your baby from breast milk.

Emotional Support and Counseling

Counseling can:

  • Help with coping strategies for dealing with the physical symptoms.
  • Help you tell your family and friends that you have HIV infection.
  • Assist you control stress and anger that comes with having HIV.
  • Help you deal with losses. This may involve your job and dependence on others for helping you out.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on how your thoughts affect the way you feel and act. CBT can help ease stress, lessen anger, and help ease depression and anxiety.

You may find help by joining support groups or art therapy.


2015 Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Updated January 25, 2017. Accessed September 17, 2018.

Guide for HIV/AIDS clinical care. National Institute of Health and Human Services website. Available at: Updated April 2014. Accessed September 17, 2018.

Living with HIV. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Updated July 23, 2018. Accessed September 17, 2018.

Overview of HIV infection. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated July 31, 2018. Accessed September 17, 2018.

Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board David L. Horn, MD, FACP  Last Updated: 12/9/2020