Brought to you by the Delaney Medical Library and Valley View Hospital Auxiliary.
HIV is a virus that attacks white blood cells called helper T cells (CD4). These cells are part of the immune system. They fight off infections and disease. As a result, an HIV infection can leave you vulnerable to severe illnesses.
AIDS is a late stage of HIV infection. It reflects severe damage to the immune system. One or more opportunistic infections will also likely exist. This is a type of infection that only occurs in people with compromised immune systems.
The HIV virus is spread through contact with HIV-infected blood or other body fluids. This includes semen, vaginal fluid, and breast milk.
AIDS is caused by the destruction of T cells. The destruction is caused by the HIV virus.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
HIV is spread through:
Rarely, HIV can be spread through:
Factors that increase your chance of getting HIV include:
The risk factor for AIDS is having HIV.
HIV may not cause symptoms for a number of years.
Early symptoms may appear a month or two after becoming infected. They may last a couple of weeks. These include:
After these initial symptoms pass, there may be no symptoms for months to years. Then, the following symptoms may occur over the course of 1-3 years:
It can be 10 years or more before HIV progresses to AIDS. This happens when T helper cell levels fall below certain levels and opportunistic infections arise. Examples of opportunistic infections and other complications of AIDS include:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms, medical history, and risk factors. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor may order tests, such as:
Medicines can prevent, delay, or control the development of AIDS in many people infected with HIV.
These drugs are often given in combination. They include:
Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors:
Nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors:
To prevent becoming infected with HIV:
Recent studies found that circumcised men were significantly less likely to develop HIV infection compared to uncircumcised men.
To prevent spreading HIV to others if you are HIV infected: