Opportunistic infections are infections that occur more often in those with a weaker immune system, including those with HIV. Although opportunistic infections aren’t as common now due to the advancement in treatment for HIV and AIDS, they may occur in those who have tested positive for HIV and haven’t received proper treatment or haven’t started treatment.

See also: What is the Treatment for HIV?

Types of opportunistic infections

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [1], some of the most common opportunistic infections in the United States include:

  • Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1)
  • Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS)
  • Lymphoma
  • Tuberculosis (TB)
  • Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP)
  • Salmonella septicemia

See also: HIV and Pneumonia: What’s the Connection?

Causes of opportunistic infections

Opportunistic infections are caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. These germs can spread in a variety of ways and can cause health problems in those with HIV - the reasoning for this being simple; HIV weakens the immune system and makes it difficult for the body to fight off the infection [2].

See also: What are the Stages of HIV?

Prevention of opportunistic infections

One of the best ways to reduce your risk of getting an opportunistic infection is by receiving HIV treatment [3]. There are also some additional recommended steps that can be taken, including:

  • Receive vaccinations against certain preventable infections
  • Avoid exposure to others sexually transmitted infections
  • Don’t consume contaminated water or food
  • Don’t share syringes or needles
  • Limit exposure to germs

See also: HIV and Aids: Myths and Facts

If you believe you may have been exposed to HIV, it’s important to know more. This can be done by taking a test with your doctor or at home with an at-home lab test.

LetsGetChecked’s range of at-home Sexual Health Tests test for some of the most common infections - including HIV. Online results will be available within 2-5 days and our dedicated medical team will be available every step of the way.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What is HIV? Online: Cdc.gov, 2020
  2. HIV.gov. Opportunistic Infections. Online: HIV.gov, 2020
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What is HIV? Online: Cdc.gov, 2020