Frequently Asked Questions

Meet Jim.* Jim is a registered nurse living with HIV and excess visceral abdominal fat. Here, he talks about his own story and experiences and helps answer some common questions you might have about excess visceral abdominal fat, including symptoms, causes, how it is diagnosed and how it can be managed.

* Jim has been compensated for his time.

How do I know if I have excess visceral abdominal fat?

Jim started experiencing rapid changes to his body that not only caused discomfort, but also led to a poor body image. “My belly changed shape so drastically that it became hard to bend over and tie my shoes or tuck in shirts. “Jim’s background as a registered nurse made him concerned about the rapid fat gain and the possible effects on his health.

Excess visceral abdominal fat feels firmer than regular fat, which is soft and doughy. Excess visceral abdominal fat can be difficult to manage with lifestyle changes, like diet and exercise. “Even though I exercised hard and was on a diet, I wasn’t able to get rid of that hard belly fat,” recalled Jim.

The symptoms may differ from one person to another. If you think you might be at risk, measure your Waist-to-Hip Ratio and use the results to jumpstart a conversation with your healthcare provider about your symptoms and health concerns.

What can cause excess visceral abdominal fat?

Many factors may contribute to excess visceral abdominal fat in people with HIV, including:

  • Older age
  • Living with HIV
  • Length of infection
  • Certain types of anti-retroviral therapy (ART)
  • A deficiency in growth hormone (GH)

Jim encourages anyone suspecting excess visceral abdominal fat to check if they are at risk. Measure your Waist-to-Hip Ratio and fill out the Healthcare Provider Discussion Guide to help you have a meaningful conversation with your healthcare provider about excess visceral abdominal fat.

How does excess visceral abdominal fat impact your wellbeing?

Excess visceral abdominal fat can lead to serious, lasting health effects—impacting both your physical and mental well-being.

Jim recalls feeling bad about his appearance, which led to avoiding social situations and self-isolation. “I felt stigmatized for years. I had to deal with occasional negative comments, clothes not fitting and my appearance changing. I always tried to avoid social situations because I felt so self-conscious about my belly.”

Jim encourages others to seek treatment that can help manage the condition, “It was only through treatment that I was able to start to feel like myself again.”

What are the treatment options for excess visceral abdominal fat?

There are several ways you can manage your excess visceral abdominal fat. The most important step to managing excess visceral abdominal fat is starting the conversation with your healthcare provider. Together, you will be able to come up with a personalized care plan that should consider your specific health needs and concerns.

Talk to a Specialist with experience in diagnosing and treating excess visceral abdominal fat to help you start managing the condition.

How will my healthcare provider check for excess visceral abdominal fat?

Your healthcare provider will check if you have excess visceral abdominal fat by:

  • Palpating your abdomen (belly) for hardness and firmness
  • Measuring your waist and hip circumference
  • Calculating your waist-to-hip ratio

“Remember that only your healthcare provider can diagnose you with excess visceral abdominal fat,” explains Jim.

Think it might be excess visceral abdominal fat?