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HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). HIV damages the immune system, eventually destroying the body's ability to fight off infections and cancers. With new and improved drug treatments, HIV has become a chronic, not an acute, disease. Persons infected with HIV are able to live more normal and productive lives.
In everyday settings, HIV is spread from one person to another through contact with one or more of the following four body fluids: blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk. These fluids have to enter a person’s body in a large enough quantity to cause a problem. The main ways people become infected with HIV are:
The virus is NOT spread from person to person by casual, everyday contact. HIV is not an airborne virus (spread in the air). Mosquitoes do not transmit HIV.
A few weeks after infection, people with HIV may develop flu-like symptoms, while others may have no symptoms. Severe symptoms, which will appear much later (as long as 10 years later) and last a long time, might include fever, swollen glands, extreme tiredness, and night sweats.
It is important to note that most people with HIV do not know they have it. Individuals with HIV may look and feel healthy, yet they can infect others. HIV can be active inside your body for years before it starts to create problems.
All information presented is intended for public use. For additional information about HIV, please visit the following Web Sites:
This page last reviewed April 18, 2007
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