About AIDS

HIVers: Get Your Flu Vaccination!

"Persons most at risk for influenza," says the CDC, includes HIV-positive people. A flu vaccination definitely is in order, especially if there has been significant immune impairment. Of course, one would never know about this urgency by watching the news.

The government has made a noisy priority of the elderly getting the vaccine, so the media have made a prominent showing of America's seniors lining up at the mall to get their shots. However, immune-compromised individuals also face serious, possibly fatal, consequences from influenza, perhaps far greater than the average oldster.

HIVers need to assert themselves and be sure that they get their shots, too, whether from their primary doc or from a public dispenser, such as a clinic.

Important: Take the injected vaccination, not the inhaled flu mist vaccine. The flu mist form contains live virus and could cause illness in those without sufficient immune protection. The flu mist vaccine would be useful, however, for HIV-neg spouses, significant others, and caregivers. It could keep them from getting influenza and passing it to the immune-compromised person.

Something else all poz people should consider is a pneumonia vaccination, e.g., Pneumovax, to protect against Streptococcus pneumoniae. People with AIDS are 50-100 times more likely to get pneumococcus, which can cause lung or bloodstream infections or meningitis and is a common complication of influenza. There's plenty of pneumococcal vaccine around anytime.

So, get in line! Go get your shots if you are HIV positive – and don't take "no" for an answer.

Don't forget: HIV science and treatment update with noted virologist Amadou Diagne, hot from the ICAAC conference! Thursday, Nov. 4, 6pm at ASA. To RSVP, call 458-AIDS or e-mail sandy.bartlett@asaustin.org (see last week's "About AIDS" for details).

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