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Vaccine Safety > Issues of Interest > AIDS
Polio Vaccine and HIV / AIDS
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)



Contents of this page:

What You Should Know

  • Scientific data show that oral polio vaccine used in the 1950s did not cause the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
  • Polio is a serious disease that can cause paralysis and death.
  • Polio vaccine protects children against polio.
  • •Current polio vaccines do not contain HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.


Additional Facts

  • One theory about how HIV began in humans states that the virus was spread to people by an oral polio vaccine (a vaccine given by mouth) used in Africa in the 1950s.
  • There has been a great deal of research and discussion about this idea, and experts believe that the oral polio vaccine did not cause the spread of HIV.
  • There were no HIV/AIDS epidemics in some areas where the oral polio vaccine was given.
  • Some of the vaccine was recently tested and did not contain HIV or HIV-like viruses.
  • It is very difficult to transmit HIV by swallowing it, especially swallowing such small amounts (the vaccine was only a couple of drops of liquid). It is very unlikely that HIV would be passed from a vaccine given by mouth.
  • Polio was one of the most dreaded childhood diseases of the first half of the 20th Century in the United States.
  • Thanks to polio vaccine, the disease is gone from the U.S., and efforts are underway to get rid of polio from the rest of the world.
  • Many people still get sick and die from polio in other parts of the world. It would only take one case of polio from another country to bring the disease back if we were not protected through vaccination.
  • CDC recommends that parents have their children vaccinated against polio and other childhood diseases.


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This page last modified on March 23, 2004


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