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What is HIV/AIDS?

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that affects the immune system of the body. Contact with specific body fluids of an HIV-positive individual, most often during unprotected intercourse (sex without the use of a condom or HIV medication to prevent or treat HIV), or sharing injectable drug equipment spreads the virus.

AIDS can develop if HIV is not treated (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). There is presently no viable treatment available. People who get HIV are infected for the rest of their lives.

HIV, on the other hand, may be managed with the right medical treatment. HIV-positive people who get adequate treatment can live long, healthy lives while also protecting their relationships.

AIDS is a late stage of HIV infection in which the virus has severely harmed the body's immune system.

Most persons with HIV in the United States do not acquire AIDS because they take their HIV medication on a daily basis as directed.

When a person with HIV has advanced to AIDS, it means that:

● Their CD4 cell count drops to less than 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood (200 cells/mm3). (CD4 levels range from 500 to 1,600 cells/mm3 in people with a healthy immune system.)

● regardless of their CD4 level, they acquire one or more opportunistic infections.

People with AIDS have a three-year survival rate if they do not take HIV medication. Without treatment, a person's life expectancy drops to approximately a year after contracting a severe opportunistic infection.

At this stage of HIV infection, HIV medication can still benefit patients, and it can even save their lives. People who begin antiretroviral therapy (ART) as soon as they are diagnosed with HIV benefit more, which is why HIV testing is so crucial.

Risk factors

Individuals are more likely to develop HIV if they engage in the following behaviors and conditions:

● Having unprotected anal or vaginal intercourse; having another sexually transmitted illness (STI) such as syphilis, herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, or bacterial vaginosis.

● Having another sexually transmitted infection (STI) such as syphilis, herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, or bacterial vaginosis.

● When injecting drugs, exchanging infected needles, syringes, and other injecting equipment, as well as drug solutions.

● Receiving potentially dangerous injections, blood transfusions, and tissue transplants, as well as medical procedures involving sterile cutting or piercing; and having needle stick injuries, especially among health care employees.


Rapid diagnostic assays with same-day findings can be used to diagnose HIV. This makes early diagnosis and linking to treatment and care much easier. HIV self-tests are also available for people to use. However, no single test can offer a complete HIV diagnosis; skilled and trained health or community worker confirmatory testing in a community center or clinic is necessary.

Most HIV diagnostic tests look for antibodies that a person produces as part of their immunological response to HIV. Antibodies to HIV develop in most persons within 28 days after infection.

People go through the so-called "window" period during this time when HIV antibodies aren't generated in high enough quantities to be detected by conventional testing, and they may show no indications of HIV infection. However, they can still transmit HIV to others. After becoming infected, an individual can pass HIV to a sexual or drug-sharing partner, as well as to a pregnant woman's infant during pregnancy or nursing.

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