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HIV: Preventing Infections


In most cases, HIV causes only a few weeks of flu-like symptoms. But if HIV isn't treated, you're more likely to get sick with opportunistic infections. HIV weakens your immune system so it can't fight off these infections. Preventing opportunistic infections is an important part of caring for yourself when you have HIV.

  • Take your HIV medicines as directed.

    This helps your immune system stay strong so it can fight off other infections.

  • Have safer sex.

    Use a condom every time you have sex. This helps prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

  • If you inject drugs, use new, clean syringes and needles every time.

    Don't share injection supplies with others.

  • Stay up to date on all vaccines.

    This includes vaccines for influenza (flu) and COVID-19. Your doctor can tell you which other vaccines you need.

  • If your doctor prescribed medicines to prevent opportunistic infections, take them as directed.

    Talk to your doctor if you have problems such as missing doses or having side effects.

  • Take steps to avoid foodborne illness.

    Having HIV puts you at a higher risk for foodborne diseases, so learn how to prepare and store food safely. For example, wash your hands before and after handling food. Don't eat raw eggs, meats, or seafood (including sushi). Wash fresh fruits and vegetables well.


Current as of: October 31, 2022

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