- What is CMV?
- How is CMV spread?
- How can I protect myself from CMV?
- How do I know if I have CMV?
- How is CMV different for someone with HIV?
- How can I prevent CMV disease?
CMV, or cytomegalovirus (si-to-MEG-a-lo-vi-rus), is a virus that is found in all parts of the world. For someone with HIV or AIDS, CMV can cause retinitis (blurred vision and blindness), painful swallowing, diarrhea, and pain, weakness, and numbness in the legs.
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, then touch your nose or mouth. People can also get CMV through sexual contact, breastfeeding, blood transfusions, and organ transplants.
You may already have CMV. However, you can take steps to avoid CMV, such as:
- washing your hands frequently and thoroughly
- using condoms (However, no protective method is 100 percent effective, and condom use cannot guarantee absolute protection against any sexually transmitted disease)
- talking to your doctor if you expect to receive 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 precautions:
- wash your hands thoroughly after contact with urine or saliva
- avoid oral contact with saliva or objects covered with saliva (such as cups, pacifiers, toys, etc.)
- talk with your doctor about whether you should continue to work in a day care center.
A blood test can tell you if you have CMV, but this test is not commonly performed. CMV doesn't always cause symptoms. Some people have fatigue, swollen glands, fever, and sore throat when they first get CMV. But these are also symptoms of other illnesses, so most people don't know it when they get CMV.
Once CMV enters a person's body, it stays there. Most people with CMV never get CMV-related diseases. However, in people with HIV or AIDS, the virus can cause severe disease.
The most important thing you can do is to get the best care you can for your HIV infection. Take your antiretroviral medicine just the way your doctor tells you to. If you get sick from your medicine, call your doctor for advice. CMV disease mostly affects HIV-infected people whose CD4 cell counts are below 100. Oral (taken by mouth) ganciclovir (gan-CY-clo- veer) may be used to prevent CMV disease, but it is expensive, has side effects, and may not work for all people. Normally, ganciclovir is not recommended, but you may want to talk with your doctor about it.
Free referrals and information:
CDC-INFO 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636) TTY: 1-888-232-6348 In English, en Espa?ol 24 Hours/Day
CDC National Prevention Information Network
P.O. Box 6003
Rockville, MD 20849-6003
Free HIV/AIDS treatment information:
Drugs undergoing clinical trials:
Social Security benefits:
Social Security Administration
(You also may request a personal earnings and benefit estimate statement to help you estimate the retirement, disability, and survivor benefits payable on your Social Security record.)
Child Health Insurance Program
1-877 KIDS NOW (1-877-543-7669)
CDC Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention Internet address: www.cdc.gov/hiv/
Additional brochures in the Opportunisitic Infections Series:
- Living With HIV/AIDS
- Preventing Infections From Pets
- Preventing Infections During Travel
- Safe Food and Water
- Tuberculosis: A Guide for Adults and Adolescents with HIV
- You Can Prevent Cryptosporidiosis
- You Can Prevent CMV (Cytomegalovirus) Infection
- You Can Prevent MAC Disease
- You Can Prevent PCP
- You Can Prevent PCP in Children
- You Can Prevent Toxo (Toxoplasmosis)