Image Caption : HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus, is an often sexually-transmitted infection that attacks the body's immune system and leaves it vulnerable to disease. HIV infection can progress in stages to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), a potentially life-threatening condition. The progression of HIV infection to an AIDS diagnosis can be slowed or prevented with medical treatment if the infection is detected early enough. Screening tests include the HIV antibody test, rapid HIV testing, HIV antibody/antigen tests, and early-detection tests. The CDC recommends at least one test for everyone aged 13 to 64. Any patient whom a physician considers to be at high risk, and anyone initiating a new sexual relationship, should be screened more frequently in accordance with a doctor's recommendations.
Also called: Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, AIDS, HIV, Human immunodeficiency virus
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It kills or damages the body's immune system cells. AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. It is the most advanced stage of infection with HIV.
HIV most often spreads through unprotected sex with an infected person. It may also spread by sharing drug needles or through contact with the blood of an infected person. Women can give it to their babies during pregnancy or childbirth.
The first signs of HIV infection may be swollen glands and flu-like symptoms. These may come and go a month or two after infection. Severe symptoms may not appear until months or years later.
A blood test can tell if you have HIV infection. Your health care provider can perform the test, or call the national referral hotline at 1-800-CDC-INFO (24 hours a day, 1-800-232-4636 in English and en español; 1-888-232-6348 - TTY).
There is no cure, but there are many medicines to fight both HIV infection and the infections and cancers that come with it. People can live with the disease for many years.
The material on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Consult a licensed medical professional for the diagnosis and treatment of all medical conditions and before starting a new diet or exercise program. If you have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.