HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
H stands for human therefore it affects humans and only survives in human cells.
I stands for Immunodeficiency, which means it infects white blood cells (CD4 cells) that are responsible for coordinating the immune system.
V stands for virus, a small infectious agent that replicates only inside the living cells of other organisms
Once HIV enters the body it begins to weaken a person’s immune system leaving them unable to fight disease and infection.
HIV is transmitted through 5 body fluids:
- Vaginal fluids
- Anal fluids
- Breast milk
HIV cannot be transmitted though:
HIV often doesn’t show any noticeable symptoms for many years after it enters the body. For this reason, many people do not know they have been infected. This is why testing and knowing your status is so important! There is no cure for HIV, but treatment can help control the virus. Click here for more information on testing.
AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.
Acquired means that HIV must be physically transmitted from one person to another; it does not occur spontaneously and is not passed genetically.
I & D stands for Immunodeficiency, which means it infects white blood cells (CD4 cells) that are responsible for coordinating the immune system.
S stands for Syndrome which is a collection of symptoms that together define a particular illness or condition. It is very important to understand that AIDS is not a disease. An AIDS diagnosis is a combination of being HIV positive and having one or more opportunistic infections such as a cancer.
HIV vs. AIDS
People often get confused between HIV and AIDS. HIV is something that can be measured; it is a virus that enters the body and weakens the immune system. You can be tested for HIV. AIDS is a diagnosis, a medical term to identify illness. HIV and AIDS are two very different things. With effective support and treatment to keep the immune system strong, people can live well with HIV for many years.