What is HIV (human immunodeficiency virus)

Over one million two hundred thousand people in the Untied States are living with HIV. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks the immune system, the body's natural defense system. Without a strong immune system, the body has trouble fighting off diseases. When HIV progresses it could cause AIDS. AIDS is a more advanced stage of HIV. AIDS is known as Acquired immunodeficiency Syndrome.


Symptoms may appear from a few days to several weeks after a person is first infected. The early symptoms usually go away within 2 to 3 weeks.

After the early symptoms go away, an infected person may not have symptoms again for many years. After a certain point, symptoms reappear and then remain. These symptoms usually include:

• Swollen lymph nodes
• Extreme tiredness
• Weight loss
• Fever
• Night sweats
• Memory loss
• Prone to sickness such as the flu, anomia and other infections


HIV infection is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus. You can get HIV from contact with infected blood, semen, or vaginal fluids.

• Most people get the virus by having unprotected sex with someone who has HIV.
• Another common way of getting it is by sharing drug needles with someone who is infected with HIV.
• The virus can also be passed from a mother to her baby during pregnancy, birth, or breast-feeding.
• HIV can spread by sharing needles with an infected drug user

HIV doesn't survive well outside the body. So it can't be spread by casual contact like kissing, sharing drinking glasses, shaking hands or hugging an infected person. With proper medical treatment research shows that there is over a 99% chance a female with HIV will have a healthy child.