HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus
that attacks the immune system. The
immune system is the body’s germ fighting system. The immune system becomes
weaker, making it harder for the body to fight off infections and some kinds of cancers.
Most people who get treatment early and take medicines for HIV can live long, healthy
What Is AIDS?
AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) happens after someone has had HIV for
many years. In AIDS, the immune system is severely weakened. Serious infections and
health problems happen.
Medicines can help prevent HIV from developing into AIDS.
How Do People Get HIV?
Most young children who have HIV got it before they were born or shortly after
Older people can get HIV through:
sharing needles for injecting drugs or tattooing
getting stuck with a needle with an infected person’s blood on it
HIV is NOT spread through:
pee, poop, spit, throw-up, or sweat (as long as there's no blood)
coughing or sneezing
sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of HIV and AIDS?
When first infected with HIV, a person may have a fever, swollen glands, a rash,
muscle aches, and other problems.
After a few years, other symptoms start, like diarrhea, weight loss, and problems
Without treatment, HIV can lead to a very weakened immune system and become AIDS.
What Causes HIV and AIDS?
HIV destroys CD4 cells (also called T cells). CD4 cells are part of the immune
system. They fight germs and help
prevent some kinds of cancers.
What Do Doctors Do?
Health care providers usually can tell if someone has HIV through blood tests.
People who do are said to be "HIV positive."
If the immune system becomes very weak, someone is said to have AIDS.
How Are HIV and AIDS Treated?
Medicines can help people with HIV stay healthy. They can also prevent HIV from
becoming AIDS. People with HIV and AIDS usually need to take a few different medicines.
The medicines must be taken exactly as prescribed or they won't work.
help keep the number of CD4 cells high
lower the viral load of HIV (how much HIV is in the body)
Regular blood tests will check to see how well the medicines are working.
By taking medicines and getting regular medical care, HIV-positive people can live
long and healthy lives.
People with HIV need a medical care team for the best treatment and support. If
you or someone you know has HIV or AIDS it is important to:
go to all doctor visits
take all medicines exactly as directed
go for all follow-up blood tests
understand what HIV/AIDS is and how it spreads
be physically active, get enough sleep, and eat well