HIV 101 Fact Sheet

Without treatment, HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) can make a person very sick and even cause death. Learning the basics about HIV can keep you healthy and prevent transmission.

Keep yourself healthy and protect others if you are living with HIV

  • Find HIV care. It can keep you healthy and help reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to others.
  • Take your HIV medicine as prescribed.
  • Stay in HIV care.
  • Tell your sex or drug-using partners that you are living with HIV. Use condoms the right way every time you have sex, and talk to your partners about PrEP.
  • Get tested and treated for other STDs.

HIV can be transmitted by

  • Sexual Contact

  • Sharing needles to inject drugs

  • Mother to baby during birth, pregnancy, or breastfeeding

HIV is not transmitted by

  • Air or water

  • Saliva, sweat, tears, or closed-mouth kissing

  • Insects or pests

  • Sharing toilets, food, or drinks

Protect yourself from HIV

  • Get tested at least once or more often if you are at risk.
  • Use condoms the right way every time you have anal or vaginal sex.
  • Choose activities with little to no risk like oral sex.
  • Limit your number of sex partners.
  • Don’t inject drugs, or if you do, don’t share needles or works.
  • If you are at very high risk for HIV, ask your health care provider if pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is right for you.
  • If you think you’ve been exposed to HIV within the last 3 days, ask a health care provider about post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) right away. PEP can prevent HIV, but it must be started within 72 hours.
  • Get tested and treated for other STDs

For more information please visit www.cdc.gov