What is HIV?
HIV, or the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is a virus that weakens the immune system. This virus damages white blood cells known as CD4 cells. CD4 cells fight infection and disease. The damage to these cells makes it difficult for the body to fight off other infections. HIV also uses CD4 cells to make more of itself to infect other CD4 cells. Currently, there is no cure for HIV, but treatment is very effective and can keep you healthy.
HIV is not AIDS
HIV and AIDS are different. HIV is the virus that can lead to AIDS if it is not treated, weakening the immune system, and leading to serious infections. This stage of untreated HIV infection is called Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome, or AIDS. Today, AIDS is rare because we have very effective treatment for HIV. AIDS can occur if someone is living with HIV for a long time before they are diagnosed, or if they don’t take any treatment.
People living with HIV can live a long, healthy life
People living with HIV can live a long, healthy life if they take HIV treatment. Beginning treatment soon after being diagnosed with HIV improves your health over the long term.