Bone Health For Life

In recent years, low bone mass and density, called osteopenia orosteoporos is, has become a widespread problem among people with HIV. Osteopenia is an early stage of bone mineral loss in which the bones become less dense and weaker. This condition does not cause pain or limit movement and is usually treated with diet and exercise rather than medications. Osteoporosis, the more advanced form of the disease, results in fragile bones that can fracture easily. The fracture causes pain, limits movement and reduces quality of life. Osteoporosis is sometimes treated with medications as well as diet and exercise.

Note that osteoporosis medications may not be suitable for all people,especially women of childbearing age.It is still not clear whether bone problems are caused by HAART or by the virus itself. However, many other factors are well known to increase the risk of developing osteopenia or osteoporosis. These include genetics(e.g. your mother had osteoporosis); getting older; low physical activity;being underweight; malnutrition; not enough calcium, vitamin D or protein; poor absorption of nutrients; diseases of the liver, gut or kidneys; and low levels of hormones such as estrogen or testosterone.

Some doctors recommend that people with HIV should have their bone density measured every two years by a special X-ray technique called a DEXA scan. The DEXA compares bone density to standards called T-scores. If the T-score is -1.0 to -2.5, it is considered osteopenia;if it’s below -2.5 (for example, -3.2), it is considered osteoporosis.Nutrition is always the first line of treatment for osteopenia or osteoporosis, and studies have shown that increasing calcium and vitamin D can restore some bone mineralization.Getting enough calcium, vitamin D and protein helps to keep your bones healthy.

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