Discharge Instructions for HIV Infection and AIDS

You’ve been diagnosed with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). This is the virus that causes AIDS, a disease than can be life threatening. HIV attacks the body's immune system, making it tougher to fight infection. For most people, infections are normally not severe or fatal. However, for people with HIV or AIDS, these infections can cause death because the body can’t fight them. Unlike other viruses, the body can't get rid of HIV. Here's what you can do to help stay healthier and prevent the spread of HIV.

Medical care

  • Take your medicine exactly as directed.

    • Don’t take any other medicine, including over-the-counter drugs or supplements, unless your doctor says it’s OK.

    • Report any side effects to your doctor.

  • See your doctor regularly. Your doctor will need to follow you closely for the rest of your life.

  • Tell all your health care providers that you are HIV-positive. This includes dentists and dental hygienists.

  • Talk to your doctor before getting vaccines. There are some vaccines you should avoid.

Help prevent the spread of HIV

  • Practice safe sex. Use condoms. Do not risk spreading your illness to other noninfected persons.

  • Ask any sexual partners to be tested for HIV.

  • Never share needles for drug use.

  • If you get tattoos or have any parts of your body pierced, be sure that the needles are destroyed afterwards.

  • Do not donate blood, plasma, semen, or body parts.

  • If you are a woman, talk to your doctor before getting pregnant.

  • There is a small risk of spreading the virus through deep, open-mouthed kissing.

Reduce your risk of infection

  • Take care of your skin.

    • Wash your hands often, especially after using the bathroom.

    • Wash your hands before taking care of any wounds or injuries.

    • Use hypoallergenic sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater.

    • Avoid direct sun exposure on your skin.

    • Use an electric razor for shaving.

  • Ask your doctor before using cosmetics, contact lenses, tampons, or douches.

  • Avoid contact with animals.

    • If you do have contact with an animal, wash your hands right away.

    • Avoid contact with pet urine or feces.

    • Don’t clean litter boxes, cages, or aquariums.

  • Keep your home clean.

    • Clean floors, carpets, furniture, and countertops regularly.

    • Be sure your bathroom is clean.

    • Wash your hands after handling trash.

  • Don’t smoke or use tobacco products.

  • Don’t use portable humidifiers or vaporizers.

  • Avoid contact with anyone who has a cold, the flu, or other contagious condition (such as measles, chicken pox, herpes, viruses, pinkeye, coughs, or sore throats).

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.


When to seek medical care

Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Blurred vision or eye problems

  • Trouble concentrating or ongoing fatigue

  • Wheezing, trouble breathing, or shortness of breath

  • Rapid, irregular heartbeat

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

  • Rash or hives

  • Cut or rash that swells, turns red, feels hot or painful, or begins to ooze

  • Fever above 101.0°F (38°C) or chills

  • Diarrhea that does not go away after two loose stools

  • Pain or cramping in the abdomen