HIV and Fatigue

Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of HIV/AIDS. Studies have found over 80% of people with HIV/AIDS will suffer fatigue at some point during their fight with the infection. Fatigue is most common during both the acute stage of infection, while the virus is still in the process of infecting the body, and after the infection has progressed to AIDS and as it worsens in severity. Unfortunately, in addition to being one of the most common symptoms, it may also be one of the most under reported.

There are a number of possible causes for fatigue in people with HIV/AIDS. Fighting an infection takes lots of energy, which can lead to fatigue. Many common coinfections such as hepatits C cause fatigue. Anemia, which affects up to 90% of the people with HIV/AIDS is a frequent cause of fatigue, as is mental illness such as depression.

Compared to many of the other problems caused by HIV/AIDS, fatigue may not seem like a big deal. Alright, so I’m tired a lot, someone may think. Fatigue is in a way one of the most dangerous symptoms of HIV/AIDS a person can be hit with. Not because of what it does, but because of what it stops you from doing.

Fatigue is an ongoing loss energy or tiredness that interferes with a persons ability to function and take part in daily activities. One of the first effects of fatigue may be isolation, as a person no longer has the energy to go out with friends or get together with family. Fatigue can interfere with regular treatment as exhaustion makes it difficult to make it to doctors appointments, or remember to take medicine. Chronic fatigue has caused many people with HIV/AIDS to lose jobs, as they become too tired to do their work,or even to tired to get up and go to work. This may leave them without insurance to pay for medical treatment or unable to afford housing.

Contrary to what people may assume, fatigue is not something to be ignored, and hope it goes away. It may be the first symptom of a dangerous coinfection, or it may be the start of a long chronic fatigue that could ruin a persons life. It is important to report any fatigue to a doctor as soon as it starts, and if fatigue continues, ask to be tested for anemia or other possible causes.

Fatigue is not inevitable or untreatable, but you can’t get treatment until you find out the cause. If the doctor can’t identify a medical cause, than other options include talking with a psychotherapist or counselor about psychological causes, or things as simple as eating more – the more you eat the more energy you have.

It is important to be aware of your energy levels, and changes in how much you are able to do. Fatigue can sneak up on a person without their realizing how consistently tired they have become. Stay alert, maybe keep a journal of your activities, and don’t be afraid to seek help – that’s what the doctor is there for.