Protect Yourself from the Flu: Important Information for People at Risk for and Living with HIV

Content From: Ronald Valdiserri, M.D., M.P.H., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Infectious Diseases, and Director, Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesPublished: December 12, 20142 min read


Have you gotten your flu vaccine? It's not too late! It's National Influenza Vaccination Week.

The cold winter months are upon us, along with the flu season. Seasonal flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. The virus is spread by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. Some scientists believe that the cold, dry air of the winter months is one of the factors that helps flu to spread. The virus can cause mild to severe illness and, in some cases, even lead to death. According to CDC, approximately 5-20% of U.S. residents get the flu each year.

Seasonal flu is a special concern for people living with HIV because HIV can make your body too weak to fight off the flu. HIV also increases your risk for serious flu-related complications. For this reason, people who have HIV and those who live with and/or care for them should get a flu vaccine. If you haven't gotten the flu vaccine, it's not too late! Flu season typically starts in the fall and peaks in January and February.

This week is National Influenza Vaccination Awareness Week, so we encourage you to learn more about the seasonal flu, take steps to protect yourself, and educate others. Here are some resources to help you:

Remember, getting vaccinated is the single best way you can protect yourself against this serious illness.