Skip to Content

HIV: Preventing Infections

Topic Overview

Medicines and vaccines are used to prevent infections and certain diseases (opportunistic infections) that are more common in people withHIV.

  • Primary prevention means preventing illness before it occurs. Immunizations (vaccines) are one kind of primary prevention. Medicines that kill or control the organisms that cause infections are another type of primary prevention.
  • Secondary prevention means preventing a disease that a person has already had from coming back. This is usually done with medicines that slow or prevent the growth of the organisms that cause infections.

Generally, infection with HIV doesn't make people sick, except for the flu-like illness that may develop shortly after they become infected. Most people who are infected with HIV get sick because theirimmune systemsbecome weak and cannot fight off other infections. So preventing opportunistic infections is an important part of treatment for HIV.

Vaccinations

If you have been diagnosed with HIV infection, make sure that you and your partner are up to date on the following immunizations:

  • Flu (influenza) inactivated vaccine, given yearly. You should not get the nasal vaccine, since it is a live vaccine.
  • Hepatitis A vaccine, given in a series of 2 shots.
  • Hepatitis B vaccine, given in a series of 3 shots.
  • Combination hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccine, given in a series of 3 shots.
  • Pneumococcal vaccines: PCV and PPSV.
  • Polio (IPV) (inactivated) vaccine. You should not get the live vaccine.
  • Tetanus and diphtheria (Td) and Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccines.

Also check to see if you need the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine or the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, or both.

Talk with your doctor about getting the shingles shot. If your CD4+ count is too low, you should not get this vaccine.

Medicines

Work with your doctors to decide which medicines to use, based on:

  • The type of infection that is present or likely to develop.
  • Which other medicines you are already taking and the possibility that one medicine might make another less effective (negative interaction).
  • The side effects of the medicines.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerPeter Shalit, MD, PhD - Internal Medicine, Infectious Disease

Current as ofNovember 18, 2017

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Learn how we develop our content.

© 1995-2018 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Symptom Checker

Feeling under the weather?

Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.

Symptom Checker

Decision Points

Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.

You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:

Interactive Tools

Get started learning more about your health!

Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.