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What is HIV/AIDS?

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus, which is the virus that causes HIV infection. The abbreviation “HIV” can refer to the virus or to HIV infection. AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV infection.


HIV attacks and destroys the infection-fighting CD4 cells of the immune system. The loss of CD4 cells makes it difficult for the body to fight infections and certain cancers. Without treatment, HIV can gradually destroy the immune system and advance to AIDS.

How is HIV spread?

HIV is spread through contact with certain body fluids from a person infected with HIV. These body fluids include:

  1. Blood

  2. Semen

  3. Pre-seminal fluid

  4. Vaginal fluids

  5. Rectal fluids

  6. Breast milk

What Causes HIV/AIDS

  • Through sexual contact

  • Through blood — by blood transfusions (now extremely rare in the United States) or more often by needle sharing.

  • From mother to child — a pregnant woman can spread the virus to her fetus through their shared blood circulation, or a nursing mother can pass it to her baby through her breast milk.

What are the symptoms of HIV/AIDS?

  • Fever and muscle pains

  • Headache

  • Sore throat

  • Night sweats

  • Mouth sores, including yeast infection (thrush)

  • Swollen lymph glands

  • Diarrhea

Basic facts about HIV

  1. HIV cannot be transmitted through sweat, saliva or urine.

  2. According to UK statistics, the most common way for someone to become infected with HIV is by having anal or vaginal sex without a condom.

  3. HIV is found in the following body fluids of an infected person: semen, blood, vaginal and anal fluids and breast milk.

  4. With early diagnosis and effective antiretroviral treatment, people with HIV can live a normal, healthy life.

  5. If left untreated, it can take around 10 to 15 years for AIDS to develop, which is when HIV has severely damaged the immune system.

  6. HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus.

Basic facts about AIDS

  1. AIDS stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

  2. AIDS is also referred to as advanced HIV infection or late-stage HIV.

  3. Someone with AIDS may develop a wide range of other health conditions including: pneumonia, thrush, fungal infections, TB, toxoplasmosis and cytomegalovirus.

  4. There is also an increased risk of developing other life-limiting conditions, including cancer and brain illnesses.

  5. CD4 count refers to the number of T-helper cells in a cubic millilitre of blood. When a person’s CD4 count drops below 200 cells per millilitre of blood, they are said to have AIDS.


The HIV is treated using a combination of medicines to fight HIV infection. This is called antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART isn’t a cure, but it can control the virus so that you can live a longer, healthier life and reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to others.

These HIV medicines prevent HIV from multiplying (making copies of itself), which reduces the amount of HIV in your body. Having less HIV in your body gives your immune system a chance to recover and fight off infections and cancers. Even though there is still some HIV in the body, the immune system is strong enough to fight off infections and cancers. By reducing the amount of HIV in your body, HIV medicines also reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to others.

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