HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)
The Package, The Bug, Burned
When first infected with HIV, you may have no signs or symptoms at all, although you're still able to transmit the virus to others. Many people develop a brief, flu-like illness two to four weeks after becoming infected. Signs and symptoms may include:
CDC estimates that more than one million people are living with HIV in the United States. One in five (21%) of those people living with HIV is unaware of their infection.
HIV is the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is the virus that can lead to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, or AIDS. HIV damages a person's body by destroying specific blood cells, called CD4+ T cells, which are crucial to helping the body fight diseases. AIDS results when the number of T-cells drops so low that the body cannot fight off even minor illnesses.
Within a few weeks of being infected with HIV, some people develop flu-like symptoms that last for a week or two, but others have no symptoms at all. People living with HIV may appear and feel healthy for several years. However, even if they feel healthy, HIV is still affecting their bodies.
All people with HIV should be seen on a regular basis by a health care provider experienced with treating HIV infection. Many people with HIV, including those who feel healthy, can benefit greatly from current medications used to treat HIV infection. These medications can limit or slow down the destruction of the immune system, improve the health of people living with HIV, and may reduce their ability to transmit HIV.
Untreated early HIV infection is also associated with many diseases including cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, liver disease, and cancer.
Support services are also available to many people with HIV. These services can help people cope with their diagnosis, reduce risk behavior, and find needed services.
AIDS is the late stage of HIV infection, when a person's immune system is severely damaged and has difficulty fighting diseases and certain cancers. Before the development of certain medications, people with HIV could progress to AIDS in just a few years. Currently, people can live much longer - even decades - with HIV before they develop AIDS. This is because of combinations of medications that were introduced in the mid 1990s.
Anyone who has unprotected sex. Men who have sex with men are at high-risk for HIV infection. HIV is spread primarily by:
Because the most common ways HIV is transmitted are through anal or vaginal sex or sharing drug injection equipment with a person infected with HIV, it is important to take steps to reduce the risks associated with these. They include:
Although there is no cure for HIV infection, there are treatment options that can help people living with HIV experience long and productive lives. Researchers continue to work on a variety of treatment-related activities, including:
Adults and Adolescent Treatment Guidelines
A Guide to Primary Care for People with HIV/AIDS
A Guide to the Clinical Care of Women With HIV
Last Updated On October, 29, 2012