Excess belly fat, known in medical circles as VAT (visceral adipose tissue), is a type of hard fat that can affect people living with HIV-infection. Research has shown that between 20% and 30% of HIV-positive patients are experiencing excess VAT. For years, there’s been a common misconception that this belly fat is just a physical cosmetic issue that is a side effect of earlier HIV treatments – something that must be accepted as a reality of now living longer with HIV-infection. Recent research dispels that myth so that even with newer anti-retro viral regimens this condition continues to exist.
|Photo Source: Don't Take VAT|
Far too often, people with HIV believe the doughy fat around one’s midsection can be addressed by a healthy diet and exercise alone. But VAT doesn’t work that way. It can be challenging to reduce VAT with exercise and healthy living alone. The "Don’t Take VAT" website – www.DontTakeVAT.com – includes fact sheets about VAT and healthy living with HIV, as well as a video that provides a deeper look at VAT and tips about what to ask your doctor.
A doctor can determine if a person has excess abdominal VAT by assessing the individual’s medical history and HIV therapy regimen and by measuring around a patient’s waist and hips and calculating waist-to-hip ratio. But this often requires a patient’s willingness to make such a request, as often even doctors mistake VAT for regular belly fat and don’t always conduct this type of assessment during routine medical appointments.
While having excess HIV-related belly fat can cause physical, medical and emotional difficulties, nobody should feel ashamed or embarrassed about it. It is important that you take ownership of your own health and take the first step toward talking to your doctor and examining your treatment option.