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HIV/AIDS and the Flu

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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.

When Should I Call a Doctor for Flu With HIV/AIDS?

Because of the nature of HIV/AIDS, any illness should be taken very seriously. Flu complications such as pneumonia can cause hospitalization and even death in some HIV/AIDS patients. Because of greatly increased risk, HIV/AIDS patients should consult their doctors at any sign of flu or other illness.

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