Prediabetes (a.k.a. insulin resistance) hits about 70 percent of HIVers; 5 percent have the real thing. These conditions don’t make life sweeter—or treatment decisions simple.
WHAT IS IT? Diabetes (shared by 18.2 million Americans, including one in 10 African Americans) means your body doesn’t absorb and use insulin—a hormone that helps get the energy from food into cells—correctly. As a result, blood glucose (sugar) levels skyrocket, gradually endangering circulation, nerve and kidney function and even vision. Prediabetes, which often graduates to diabetes, sends your blood sugar spiking after you eat (but not when you fast).
WHAT’S MY RISK? A December, 2004 Journal of AIDS study report can help you and your doc calculate your risk of diabetes.
It showed: • Obesity and family history are the two top risk factors. • Liver inflammation, common in HIVers (look for elevated liver enzymes on your blood test), expands your diabetes risk. Common contributors: active hep C, alcohol and liver-stressing HIV meds like nukes (think d4T) or non-nuke Viramune.
Other risk raisers: • Protease inhibitors can disrupt insulin and lead to diabetes. • Lipoatrophy can muck with glucose regulation: Lost fat cells result in low levels of sugar-regulating hormones.
WHAT CAN I DO? 1. Test: A fasting glucose test checks for diabetes. A glucose-tolerance test looks for prediabetes by pouring you a sweet drink, then drawing your blood two hours later. 2. Prevent: Exercise regularly and keep your weight (and body mass index) normal. A nutritionist can help cook up a diet plan you can stick to. Hold the doughnuts. 3 Treat: Multiple meds—Glyset, Precose, Prandin, Starlix—help keep prediabetes from progressing. Pop ’em before eating to stop after-meal blood-sugar surges. Glucophage is another one (unless you’ve got elevated liver enzymes or kidney problems). Take it from here, sugar.