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Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

CMV is short for cytomegalovirus (seye-toh-MEG-uh-loh-VEYE-ruhss). In people who don't have HIV, CMV is a common, usually harmless infection. In people with HIV/AIDS, CMV can hurt the eyes, causing problems seeing or even blindness. A person with HIV who gets CMV is considered to have AIDS. CMV can hurt other parts of your body too. It also can cause painful swallowing, fever, diarrhea, fatigue, and pain, weakness, and numbness in the legs. The risk of CMV is highest when CD4 cell counts are below 50. It is rare in people whose CD4 cell counts are above 100. CMV can cause other problems, like colitis and hepatitis, which are serious conditions affecting the gastrointestinal system. CMV spreads from one person to another in saliva (spit), semen, vaginal secretions, blood, urine, and breast milk. You can get CMV when you touch these fluids with your hands, and then touch your nose or mouth.

Prevent CMV:

  • Take your HIV drugs the way you're told to
  • If you get sick from your medicine, call your doctor for help
  • Wash your hands a lot. Use soap and wash them well.
  • Use condoms (though condom use cannot guarantee total protection against CMV)
  • Talk to your doctor if you're getting a blood transfusion. Most blood banks don't screen blood for CMV.

If you work in a day care center, you should take these special steps:

  • Wash your hands really well after touching urine (pee) or saliva (spit)
  • Don't touch saliva or objects covered with saliva (such as cups, pacifiers, toys)
  • Talk with your doctor to see if you should work in a day care center

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Content last updated: July 01, 2011.

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