HIV: Preventing 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 their immune systems become weak and cannot fight off other infections. So preventing opportunistic infections is an important part of treatment for HIV.

  • Get immunized.

    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.
  • Ask your doctor if you need other vaccinations.
    • 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.
  • 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.


Current as of: February 9, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Peter Shalit MD, PhD - Internal Medicine