1. What is HIV?
Human Immunodeficiency Virus is the virus that causes AIDS or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. HIV harms the body's immune system by attacking certain kinds of cells, known as helper T cells or CD4 cells, which are part of the body's natural line of defense against illness. As time goes by, HIV destroys so many of these cells that the body is no longer able to defend itself against certain cancers, viruses, bacteria, or parasites. If left untreated, HIV can lead to AIDS and death.
2. What is AIDS?
AIDS, or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, occurs when an individual's immune system is weakened by HIV to the point where they develop any number of diseases or cancers. People who haven't had one of these diseases or cancers, but whose immune system is shown by a laboratory test to be severely damaged are also considered to have progressed to an AIDS diagnosed. AIDS must be diagnosed by a physician
3. How do you get HIV?
HIV is spread through an exchange of certain bodily fluids - blood, semen (including other penile discharges like pre-come), and vaginal secretions. A woman infected with HIV can pass HIV to her baby through pregnancy or delivery, and also through breast milk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), contact with saliva, tears, or sweat has never resulted in someone getting HIV. And you cannot be infected through casual contact, such as hugging or shaking hands. In the U.S., most people get HIV through unprotected sexual contact - including vaginal, anal, and oral sex - and injection drug use.
4.What are ways to reduce the risk of getting HIV?
- Choosing not to have sex, or making an agreement with a partner who is not HIV-positive to be sexually faithful to each other, and sticking to it
- Using a condom for vaginal or anal sexual intercourse, and barrier methods, such as a condom or dental dam, for oral sex
- Not sharing needles for injection drug use
- Getting tested! And asking partners to do the same
5. How many people worldwide have HIV/AIDS?
There are 42 million people estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, of which 38.6 million are adults. 19.2 million, or half of adults living with HIV/AIDS are women. 3.2 million children under the age of 15 are estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS.
6. Is there a cure for HIV/AIDS?
At this time, there is no cure for HIV. However, there are new combination drug therapies that have been found highly effective in delaying the onset of AIDS. Additionally, prescribed medications can help to prevent and treat many opportunistic infections (OIs).
For more information about HIV/AIDS, please visit:
KNOW HIV/AIDS: http://www.knowhivaids.org
Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation: http://www.kff.org/sections.cgi?section=hivaids
The content for this website was provided by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation as part of an ongoing public education partnership with VH1on HIV/AIDS.