Also known as: human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

What is HIV/AIDS?

HIV is a virus that can destroy the body’s immune system. Over time and without treatment, the virus can cause AIDS, a life-threatening illness that occurs when the body’s immune system is greatly compromised.

What causes HIV/AIDS?

An infection by the HIV virus can ultimately lead to AIDS. The virus is spread from person to person through the blood, breast milk or sexual fluids. Sexual acts, sharing drug needles, childbirth or breastfeeding are common ways to spread the disease.

What are the symptoms of HIV/AIDS?

HIV may present with no symptoms, or mild symptoms such as fever, fatigue, headaches, muscle aches or swollen glands. AIDS can ultimately lead to death and includes many symptoms. Some common ones include fatigue, chronic yeast and bacterial infections, recurrent diarrhea, persistent coughing, shortness of breath, pneumonia, fevers, central nervous system disease and decreased mental abilities.

What are HIV/AIDS care options?

Drug “cocktails” known as Anti-viral therapies are used to treat people with HIV and prevent the progression of the disease. These cocktails do not cure AIDS, but they can help people live with the virus for many years without developing AIDS.

Reviewed by: Manuel Rafael Cotilla, MD

This page was last updated on: November 15, 2021 03:20 PM