Quick Facts: HIV/AIDS

Quick Facts about HIV/AIDS


1.  HIV and AIDS are not the same thing.

     HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This is the virus that causes AIDS. A person can be HIV-positive for many years without becoming sick. However, the virus is still living in their body and can be transmitted to another person.

     AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. A person can only be diagnosed with AIDS by a doctor. This happens when their T-cell or CD4 count is below 200 or they become infected with an AIDS defining illness.

2.  HIV/AIDS affect the immune system.

     HIV, like other viruses, does not have the ability to reproduce on its own. In order to reproduce, it invades cells of the immune system and uses their replication abilities to reproduce. When a person has AIDS, their body may be at risk for acquiring many infections. Some bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites that once seemed harmless may cause serious illness, or even death, when a person has AIDS.

3.  HIV can only be transmitted through blood, vaginal secretions, semen, or breast milk. It cannot be transmitted through sweat, saliva, or tears.

     HIV/AIDS is transmitted through intimate physical or sexual contact with a person who is infected, through blood-to-blood contact with a person who is infected, and a mother can pass the virus to her baby during labor, delivery or breastfeeding. HIV is found in the blood, semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk of those with the virus. If these fluids have contact with broken skin, mucous membranes or are inserted into the body with a needle, HIV transmission can occur. HIV is NOT transmitted: by sneezing or coughing on people, by swimming in a pool, by a handshake, hug, or even a kiss. There are no known cases caused by sweat, saliva or tears.

4.  You cannot tell by someone’s appearance if they have HIV or not.

5.  HIV affects people of all races, ethnicity, genders, and sexual orientations.

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