Survive The Festive Season


We hate to be a party poopers, but for someone who is HIV positive, taking care of yourself and your health is far more important. To help you have a good time this holiday season, Dr Lerato, who specialises in HIV matters, gives advice to keep you on track.


Alcohol is an important part of the party mix, but know your limits and don’t overdo it.

Getting drunk may also lead to you forgetting to take your ARVs on time and/or missing some of the doses, and even having unprotected sex. Take alcohol in moderation, as people on ARVs take longer to recover from a hangover because the liver is needed to process the ARVs, but will also be working hard to process toxins in your system after a heavy night’s drinking.

This might be holiday time, but you’re not allowed to take a holiday from your ARVs.

Set a reminder on your phone, or alarm on your watch. This should be an easy habit to get into. Alternatively, you may want to take your ARVs before you go out. If you happen to miss taking your medication, take them as soon as you remember, and then continue taking them at your usual time.

We all tend to overdo things during the festive season, and bingeing on junk food can negatively affect the health of an HIV-positive person.

Enjoy junk food from time to time (if you really have to!), but balance that with healthy foods that are good for you.

 Always carry condoms…and use them!

It’s too easy to have unprotected sex (because of too much alcohol) with someone you’ve just met. But is there anything you can do the next day to prevent possible infection with a different strain of HIV? According to Dr Lerato, if you are already on ARVs, you should diligently continue with them as prescribed and make sure you adhere to the other rules (always condomise – don’t use traditional or herbal concoctions, and no excessive alcohol is allowed) to keep your viral load suppressed.

You may have found out your status just before the start of the holiday period and are still trying to understand everything that’s going on in your life.

Do yourself a favour – if you want to survive the festive period and have at least a little bit of fun, then DON’T say anything to anyone. By sharing your news you will be bombarded with questions, have fingers pointed at you…and the holidays will turn into a nightmare. Obviously, your partner is at risk (if they are not already infected), so insist on using a condom.

Unfortunately, car accidents are common during the party season, and someone who’s HIV positive can be concerned about disclosing their status to medical professionals.

According to Dr Lerato, there’s no need to worry as healthcare workers have a legal responsibility to maintain confidentiality, and the law provides serious penalties for any breach in confidentiality. You must tell the medical staff caring for you your HIV status. This will allow them to provide you with appropriate medical care.

The festive season can be a sad time for some people, as you might be reflecting on the year gone by, your life, hopes and dreams and because it’s holiday time your counsellor is either away or you’re out of town visiting family and can’t reach them. Make sure you have a close friend who’ll be available to take your calls or be able to meet up with you to have a heart-to-heart chat if need be.

With the festive season upon us, don’t party so hard you can’t remember a thing – just have a good time and be safe! Remember, the future depends on what you do today.