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HIV/AIDS and the Flu

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When Should I Get a Flu Shot?

Flu season can begin as early as October and last as late as May. October or November is the recommended time to be vaccinated, but you can still get vaccinated in December and later.

The flu shot becomes effective about two weeks after your vaccination, which is why experts recommend getting the shot early in the fall. Without the flu shot, you are at an increased risk of catching flu and having flu complications.

Should I Get a Flu Shot Each Year if I Have HIV/AIDS?

Yes. Flu viruses change each year, so the shot you get this year may not protect you from the flu strain in following years. In addition, even if you do get sick with flu, your immunity to the flu virus declines over time. Getting an annual flu shot helps boost flu protection each year.

Should I Get a Pneumonia Vaccine if I Have HIV/AIDS?

Pneumonia is the term to describe any infection of the lung. The "pneumonia vaccine" is given to prevent one specific type of pneumonia -- the pneumonia caused by the pneumococcus (Streptococcus pneumoniae) bacterium. Pneumonia caused by pneumococcus is the most common form of infection occurring outside of a hospital or institutional setting in the United States and is responsible for more than 6,000 deaths each year. A serious complication of pneumonia, pneumococcal meningitis, is associated with a particularly high fatality rate.

The CDC recommends that anyone at high risk for pneumonia, including those with HIV/AIDS, get the pneumonia vaccine. One dosage is usually sufficient, but your doctor may recommend a second pneumonia vaccine. Talk to your doctor about your health situation.

Does Good Hygiene Help Prevent Flu Complications With HIV/AIDS?

Because people with HIV/AIDS are more susceptible to viral and bacterial infections, it's important to always use good hygiene to reduce the chance of getting sick. Talk with your family members and friends about preventing the spread of flu viruses by covering their mouths when they cough, washing their hands frequently, and avoiding rubbing their eyes after touching surfaces.

In addition, avoid crowds during flu season. Keep your immune system healthy by getting plenty of sleep, eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding stress. Also, pay attention to healthy lifestyle habits by avoiding cigarette smoke and air pollutants.

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