What is HIV?
- HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus
- HIVis the virus that causes AIDS
- HIV may be passed from one person to another when infected blood, semen, or vaginal secretions come in contact with an uninfected person’s broken skin or mucous membranes. These can include the mouth, eyes, nose, vagina, rectum and opening of the penis
- Infected pregnant women can pass HIV to their baby during pregnancy or delivery, as well as through breast-feeding
- People with HIV have what is called HIV infection. Some of these people will develop AIDS as a result of their HIV infection
How is HIV Transmitted?
HIV is spread by sexual contact with an infected person, by sharing needles and/or syringes (primarily for drug injection) with someone who is infected, or, less commonly (and now very rarely in countries where blood is screened for HIV Antibodies), through transfusions of infected blood or blood clotting factors. Babies born to HIV-infected women may become infected before or during birth or through breast-feeding after birth.
What is AIDS?
- AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
- The word Acquired means the disease is not hereditary but develops after birth from contact with a disease causing agent (in this case, HIV)
- The word Immunodeficiency means that the disease is characterized by a weakening of the immune system
- The word Syndrome refers to a group of symptoms that collectively indicate or characterize a disease
- In the case of AIDS this can include the development of certain infections and/or cancers, as well as a decrease in the number of certain cells in a person’s immune system
- An official AIDS diagnosis is done by a physician using specific clinical or laboratory standards
What causes AIDS?
AIDS is caused by infection with a virus called human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This virus is passed from one person to another through blood-to-blood and sexual contact. In addition, pregnant women can pass HIV to their babies during pregnancy or delivery, as well as through breast feeding. People with HIV have what is called HIV infection.
HIV SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Often people who are HIV infected have few or no symptoms. Other times, symptoms of HIV are confused with other illnesses such as the flu. If a person were to have symptoms they would include:
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, groin or under the arms
- Unexplained weight loss
- Fever, chills or sweats (especially at night)
- Visual changes
- Frequent pneumonias or shortness of breath
- Flu-like symptoms