HIV: Preventing Infections

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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 the 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 food poisoning.

    Having HIV puts you at a higher risk for food-borne 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: June 12, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.