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HIV and Weight Loss

hiv weight loss

One of the significant effects of HIV is weight loss. It is a severe matter for individuals with HIV as it indicates the weakening of the immune system and the development of other health complications.

How is weight loss defined in people with HIV?

HIV weight loss refers to a condition where a person experiences an unexplained and fast weight loss after coming in contact with the virus. Besides flu-like symptoms, weight loss is also one of the severe effects of HIV. It develops along with diarrhea, fever, and extreme body weakness.

The condition usually occurs when HIV advances to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Despite the effectiveness of antiretroviral therapy, individuals with HIV can experience losing weight but on a minimal depth.

Factors associated with HIV weight loss

The following factors explain the reason why people with HIV experience weight loss:

  • Lack of nutrition – When HIV advances, conditions like mouth sores develop. Such a situation makes food consumption difficult. Limited food intake can significantly affect the supply of nutrients that the body needs to stay healthy.
  • Development of opportunistic infections – Opportunistic infections develop once HIV advances to AIDS. This phenomenon results in weight loss in general.
  • Adverse reactions due to medicinal intake –Healthcare professionals will always prescribe drugs under ART (antiretroviral therapy). However, the significant side effects of these medicines are vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea. These side effects result in weight loss.
  • Mental disorders – A person with HIV may also experience mental health disorders. These disorders include depression, anxiety, and dementia. These mental conditions significantly affect how the body functions, leading to weight loss.


Maintaining good health and following a good diet can prevent weight loss. It also involves having a healthy lifestyle and regular visits to the healthcare professionals. The following measures can help prevent HIV weight loss:

  • Follow a strict diet that contains nutrients and healthy compounds. One of these nutrients includes protein, a macronutrient that improves body mass.
  • Regular exercise strengthens the muscles and the immune system.
  • Join support programs to ensure your mental health is stable.


The primary treatment for HIV involves ART. While its side effect includes weight loss, it is manageable. This therapy lowers an individual’s risk of acquiring opportunistic infections. The absence of opportunistic infection prevents complications involving the gastrointestinal tract.

Besides ART, anti-inflammatory medicines can also prevent inflammations within the body. Appetite stimulants are also available; however, approval from the healthcare professional is still necessary.


Losing weight if you have HIV is a severe medical condition. Despite the accessibility of ART, other factors still contribute to weight loss. What can you do to prevent complications? One way is to live a healthy lifestyle. You also need to continue with your ART treatment and talk with your healthcare professional to manage your condition better.

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