HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
HIV infects a person's immune cells. By interfering with the cells that protect us against infection, HIV leaves the body poorly protected against particular types of diseases which these cells normally can fight off easily.
Initially, a person living with HIV may show no symptoms of HIV infection as their immune system manages to control it. However, in most cases their immune system will need help from anti-HIV drugs to keep the HIV infection under control. These drugs do not completely rid the body of HIV infection.
AIDS is short for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
The term AIDS is now very rarely used. It is more usual to talk of late-stage or advanced HIV infection.
Advanced HIV infection is not a single disease or condition. Instead, it is a term that describes the stage when the virus has done enough damage to the immune system to allow cancers, pneumonia or other opportunistic infections to develop.
- • HIV can infect anybody
- • Since 2007, the majority of people diagnosed in the UK were infected through heterosexual sex
- • For every person diagnosed with advanced HIV-disease, there are many others who have HIV infection without knowing it
- • There is no vaccine or cure for HIV infection
- • Early diagnosis has a major impact on successful treatment as the use of combined drug treatments can reduce the effect on a person's immune system
The main ways that HIV can be transmitted are:
- • Through unprotected sexual intercourse and other sexual activities
- • From mother to baby, although the risk is dramatically reduced with medication
- • From blood to blood
- • Injecting - drug use
The following carry NO risk of HIV transmission:
- • Caring for a person with HIV
- • Insect bites
- • Non-injecting drug use
- • Sharing cutlery or linen
- • Toilet seats
- • Body massage
- • French kissing