What causes diabetes?


Type 2 diabetes 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 in people living with HIV


Diabetes can develop in people living with HIV, sometimes because of the inflammation caused by the virus.

People with HIV are more likely to have other risk factors for diabetes. Links have been found between type 2 diabetes and these antiretroviral treatments:

  • AZT
  • indinavir
  • the little-used d4T
  • lopinavir.

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.

The following symptoms could be a sign of diabetes:

  • a constant thirst
  • blurred vision
  • fatigue
  • weight loss
  • cuts taking longer to heal up
  • a need to urinate frequently, especially at night
  • genital itching or thrush.

What is 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, a hormone made by the pancreas that helps the glucose get into the cells.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when you don’t produce enough insulin (insulin deficiency) or your body cannot use the insulin that 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.

In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas doesn’t make any insulin. This is usually diagnosed in childhood.

How is diabetes treated?


Type 2 diabetes can be managed initially by lifestyle changes including stopping smoking, taking more exerciseimproving your diet and losing weight if necessary.

Diabetes UK have an online training course to help you manage type 2 diabetes.

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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