Diabetes is a common condition – type 2 diabetes can be managed by lifestyle changes such as a good diet, exercise and not smoking.
Type 1 diabetes usually develops in childhood and is an autoimmune condition, not caused by lifestyle.
Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, usually develops later in life. It can sometimes be caused by lifestyle factors and is more common in overweight people who don’t exercise enough. There are also other risk factors such as family history and ethnicity.
Diabetes can also develop in people with HIV, sometimes because of the inflammation caused by HIV.
People with HIV are also more likely to have other risk factors for diabetes - links have been found between type 2 diabetes and those antiretroviral treatments:
Diabetes is also linked to ageing, so as people living with HIV become older this adds a further risk factor for diabetes.
People living with HIV over the age of 40 will have routine blood glucose tests to check for signs of diabetes.
Diabetes means having too much glucose in the blood (blood sugar) because the body is unable to use it properly.
Glucose is extracted from food, then used by our cells to make energy. The glucose in the body is regulated by insulin, which is a hormone made by the pancreas - it helps the glucose get into the cells.
There are two types of diabetes. If you have type 1, your pancreas doesn’t make any insulin, this is usually diagnosed in childhood.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when you don’t produce enough insulin (insulin deficiency) or your body cannot use the insulin you do make (insulin resistance) so the glucose stops being regulated. Eventually the levels of glucose in the blood become too high, resulting in what is known as high blood sugar.
Type 1 diabetes is treated with insulin, which is usually injected with a special pen or dispensed with an insulin pump.
Type 2 diabetes can be managed initially by lifestyle changes including stopping smoking, taking more exercise, improving your diet and losing weight if necessary.
Diabetes UK have an online training course to help you manage type 2 diabetes. You have to sign up to access the course.
These measures will often keep your blood glucose levels under control, although it will probably need to be managed with medication at some point.
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This article was last reviewed on
by Anna Peters
Date due for the next review: 3/1/2021
Content Author: Kerri Virani
Current Owner: Health promotion
What is Type 1 diabetes?
What is Type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes
Diabetes Factsheet NAM aidsmap (2012)
Sweet sorrow: diabetes and HIV NAM aidsmap (2009)
Diabetes - the basics Diabetes UK (2009)
Diabetes symptoms Diabetes UK (2009)
Type 2 diabetes - Overview NHS Choices June 2014
Type 2 diabetes - Causes NHS Choices June 2014
Type 2 diabetes - Symptoms NHS Choices June 2014
Type 2 diabetes - Treatment NHS Choices June 2014
Living with type 2 diabetes - looking after yourself NHS Choices June 2014
Sex and diabetes Diabetes UK 2015
Various people talk about their experiences of living with HIV.
CAB - Citizens Advice Bureau
HIV Drug Interactions
George House Trust
Equality and Human Rights Commission
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