Symptoms and Complications
Some people living with HIV/AIDS may decrease their food intake due to poor appetite, problems with the mouth, throat or esophagus, fatigue, weakness, nausea, diarrhea, or they may have nutrient malabsorption due to medication. There are many symptoms / conditions associated with HIV/AIDS, including nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, fatigue, rash, weight loss or gain, peripheral neuropathy, insomnia, depression, and gastrointestinal problems. These associated conditions are a result of the virus itself, medication, or a combination.
Two conditions related to HIV/AIDS that are common to the disease are lipodystrophy and muscle wasting. Even with HAART, HIV/AIDS-related wasting remains a problem. Wasting effects nearly 20% of those living with HIV-1.
Lipodystrophy is a disturbance in the way the body produces, uses, and distributes fat. In people with HIV/AIDS, common symptoms of Lipodystrophy include a loss of fat in the face, arms, legs, and buttocks, and a gain of fat in the abdomen, behind the neck, and/or in the breasts. Some people with lipodystrophy also exhibit high cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood glucose levels. Medical treatment includes switching antiretroviral medications, taking medication to lower blood glucose, triglycerides, and cholesterol, hormone therapy to help decrease fat, or liposuction surgery.
Lipodystrophy can occur for approximately 25% - 83% of people with HIV. Research notes that few studies have been completed to evaluate the impact of exercise including the kind of exercise or intensity which may be beneficial for lipodystrophy treatment. A limited number of studies have shown favorable effects when exercise included aerobic and resistance exercises. Study results showed decreases in abdominal fat mass in people with HIV with lipodystrophy.
Muscle wasting involves involuntary weight loss of ten percent of baseline body weight. This is dangerous to Individuals with HIV/AIDS because it often leads to an increased susceptibility of developing opportunistic infections, and can lead to death. Wasting syndrome can be due to either malnourishment or metabolic disturbance. Possible causes of wasting due to metabolic disturbance include increased resting energy expenditure, tissue destruction, altered utilization and excretion of nutrients, and hypogonadism.
In wasting syndrome, the muscles waste away and the immune system is weakened. Studies indicate that inflammation is a prominent factor in HIV/AIDS wasting and is also linked to cardiometabolic conditions.