AIDS/HIV

McKenzie Alexander

THE BASICS

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is the virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS. Unlike some other viruses, the human body cannot get rid of HIV. That means that once you have HIV, you have it for life. HIV affects specific cells of the immune system, called CD4 cells, or T cells. Over time, HIV can destroy so many of these cells that the body can’t fight off infections and disease. When this happens, HIV infection leads to AIDS. Prevention includes usage of condoms, higher developed testing and frequent testing.

Transmission

In the United States, HIV is spread mainly by having sex or sharing injection drug equipment such as needles with someone who has HIV.

  • Having sex with someone who has HIV. In general:Anal sex is the highest-risk sexual behavior. Receptive anal sex (bottoming) is riskier than insertive anal sex (topping).
  • Vaginal sex is the second highest-risk sexual behavior.Having multiple sex partners or having other sexually transmitted infections can increase the risk of infection through sex.

    Sharing needles, syringes, rinse water, or other equipment (works) used to prepare injection drugs with someone who has HIV.

    Incidence

    DIagnosis

    TESTS

    The most common HIV test is the antibody screening test (immunoassay), which tests for the antibodies that your body makes against HIV. The immunoassay may be conducted in a lab or as a rapid test at the testing site. It may be performed on blood or oral fluid (not saliva).

    Treatment

    Today, an estimated 1.1 million people are living with HIV in the United States. Thanks to better treatments, people with HIV are now living longer—and with a better quality of life—than ever before. If you are living with HIV.

    Although there is no cure for HIV infection, there are treatment options that can help people living with HIV experience long and productive lives. CDC and other government agencies continue to work on a variety of treatment-related activities, including:

    • HIV/AIDS clinical research and drug trials;
    • vaccine research;
    • development of treatment guidelines and best practices; and
    • creating and implementing treatment-related prevention strategies that can help stop new infections.