Body Positive: Staying Healthy and Fit with HIV

Nelson Vergel, founder of, covers the following topics with focus on women living with HIV:
Weight Gain in the New HIV Era- Review of Studies
Preventing Heart Disease
Reducing Visceral Fat
Healthy Nutrition Tips
Exercise Tips
Weight Loss Medications
Hormone Balance
Sleep- The Pillar of Health

Weight Gain in HIV: Then and Now:
1996- 2006: Weight gain was characterized by accumulation in the visceral and cervical area (lipohypertrophy) in the boosted protease plus thymidine nucleoside era (Crixivan, Kaletra, AZT, Zerit) along with fat loss under the skin (lipoatrophy). Lipoatrophy decreased after Zerit and AZT were no longer recommended in the U.S. in 2004.

ARV-related mitochondrial toxicity plus insulin resistance were factors identified in body changes along with inflammatory cytokines. Some genetic factors were also identified but not investigated in detail.

The term “lipodystrophy”” was later changed to “return-to-health” syndrome as strong immune reconstitution was identified as a major factor.

The only treatment approved for the treatment of increased abdominal fat is Egrifta SR

We hoped that integrase inhibitors would not cause weight gain since they are not associated with mitochondrial toxicity or insulin resistance. They were later found to cause greater weight gain than protease inhibitors in naïve patients and those switching to integrase inhibitors. This trend is most pronounced in women, blacks, and persons ≥ 60 yrs. of age

We have learned that all ARVs can cause weight gain and that patient-related factors that may worsen their effect. Fortunately, disfiguring lipodystrophy is rare in patients not exposed to AZT, Zerit and older ARVs. However, many long-term survivors are still dealing with these body changes.


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