HIV/AIDS 101 - Know the Facts!

What is HIV?

"HIV" stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. A virus that destroys the body's immune system, resulting in AIDS.

How do you get HIV?

HIV lives in blood and other body fluids that contain blood or white blood cells. People have gotten HIV through:

  • Unprotected sexual intercourse with an HIV-infected person. This includes vaginal or anal intercourse, and oral sex on a man or woman without a condom or other barrier. Intercourse while a woman is having her period, or during outbreaks of genital sores or lesions (caused by herpes and other sexually transmitted diseases) can increase the risk of HIV transmission.
  • Sharing drug injection equipment (needles and/or works); or being accidentally stuck by needles or sharp objects contaminated with infected blood.
  • Infected blood used in transfusions, and infected blood products used in the treatment of certain diseases and disorders (like hemophilia), before March, 1985.
  • Pregnancy, childbirth, and/or breastfeeding, where the virus is passed from mother to child.
  • Transplanted organs from infected donors. (Routine screening of organ donors also began in 1985.)

HIV and AIDS are not transmitted through casual contact (that is, where no blood or body fluids are involved). HIV is what gets passed from person to person. People don't "catch AIDS"; they "become infected with HIV."

Signs and Symptoms of HIV

Many people who are HIV-positive do not have symptoms of HIV infection. Sometimes people living with HIV go through periods of being sick and then feel fine.

Some people experience a flu-like illness, develop a rash, or get swollen glands for a brief period soon after they become infected with HIV. However, these are also common symptoms of other less serious illnesses, and do not necessarily mean that a person has HIV.





What is AIDS?

"AIDS" stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. The end result of HIV infection when your body is no longer able to fight off other opportunistic infections.

Sign and Symptoms of AIDS

"AIDS" stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. The end result of HIV infection when your body is no longer able to fight off other opportunistic infections.