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STD Facts: HIV/AIDS - Minnesota Dept. of Health

HIV Basics

On this page:
Signs and Symptoms
Pregnancy and HIV/AIDS
Testing and Treatment

Signs and Symptoms

These symptoms are not specific for HIV and may have other causes. Most people with HIV have no symptoms at all for several years.

Early (weeks to months after exposure):

  • Flu-like illness
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Late (years after exposure)

  • Persistent fevers
  • Night sweats
  • Prolonged diarrhea
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Purple bumps on skin or inside mouth and nose
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Recurrent respiratory infections


HIV is found in:

  • Blood
  • Semen
  • Vaginal fluid
  • Anal fluid
  • Breastmilk

HIV is spread through:

  • Vaginal sex and anal sex
  • Sharing syringes to inject drugs or other substances
  • From pregnant person to baby during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding

HIV cannot be spread by:

  • Shaking hands, hugging, or other casual contact
  • Swimming pools
  • Kissing
  • Toilet seats
  • Food
  • Animals or insects
  • Coughing


  • HIV can spread to sex partners and syringe sharing partners.
  • There is no cure for HIV and without treatment most people eventually die from HIV-related complications.

HIV/AIDS and pregnancy

  • HIV can be spread from pregnant person to baby during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding. This is called perinatal (mother-to-child) transmission.
  • Perinatal HIV transmission can almost always be prevented with proper medical care. For more information, see Perinatal (Mother-to-Child) Transmission.


  • There is a daily pill that people can take to prevent HIV infection. For more information, see Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP).
  • HIV treatment can prevent sexual transmission of HIV. A person living with HIV who gets and keeps undetectably low levels of HIV has effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their sex partners. For more information, see Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U).
  • Condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing the transmission of HIV. For more information on the correct way to use male condoms, internal condoms, and barriers for oral sex, see Condoms (CDC). To find free or low-cost condoms near you, visit the CDC Condom Finder.
  • Don’t share syringes/needles, cotton or cookers. For a list of Minnesota pharmacies that sell syringes without a prescription, and for information about syringe exchange programs in Minnesota, see Syringe Access and Disposal.
  • Don’t share needles for tattooing or piercing.
  • If you learn that you are living with HIV, notify your sex and/or syringe sharing partners. For help with notifying partners, see STD/HIV Partner Services Program.

Testing and Treatment

  • Tests are available to detect antibodies for HIV through health care providers, STD clinics, and HIV counseling and testing sites. To find an HIV test near you, see HIV Testing.
  • There is no cure for HIV/AIDS, but HIV medications and treatment keep the immune system working. People living with HIV who take their medications as prescribed can live long and healthy lives
  • Medications are available to treat AIDS-related illnesses.
  • Medications are available for pregnant people with HIV to greatly reduce the chance of perinatal HIV transmission.
  • There are experimental drug trials testing new medications.
Updated Friday, 07-Oct-2022 13:37:24 CDT