HIV/AIDS: Get informed

AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is a contagious illness characterized by the progressive deterioration of the immune system. AIDS is triggered by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)


HIV and AIDS: Definition

Once it has entered the body, HIV attacks human cells and primarily targets those that have the CD4 receptor on their surface, in particular T lymphocytes. The destruction of these cells progressively impairs the patient’s immune system. This makes the body vulnerable to attack by numerous micro-organisms. In effect, the body of a person contaminated with HIV loses its ability to defend itself and gets progressively weaker, becoming more vulnerable to attack by external and harmful agents.
In the U.S., around 37,600 people per year discover that they are HIV-positive. Around 1.2 million people in the country are affected by HIV, and it is estimated that nearly one in eight of those unknowingly living with the virus. Since the start of the epidemic, the number of deaths caused by AIDS in the United States has passed 675,000. In the United States, HIV diagnoses are not evenly distributed across states and regions. Florida and California had the highest number of diagnosed HIV sufferers.


In general, the term AIDS is used to refer to the serious symptomatic phase of HIV infection, which typically involves infections or tumors. How HIV and AIDS progress depends on the patient’s circumstances (age, drug dependency, viral infection such as hepatitis, etc.) and their treatment. In the U.S., about 23%-26% of people diagnosed as being HIV-positive find out at a late stage.
HIV is found in the blood, genital secretions and breast milk of infected patients. Contamination is possible if a person comes into contact with bodily fluids contaminated with HIV. This is why HIV is considered to be a sexually transmitted disease (STD). More than half of contaminations happen through heterosexual sex, around a third through homosexual sex and a very low percentage through the use of intravenous drugs.

I have AIDS

Being HIV-positive and having AIDS are two different things. Even people who understand their illness well still find it difficult to live with. They have to manage their treatment, cope with other people’s perceptions, and come to terms with the impact that having HIV or AIDs is going to have on their everyday life...
To help you to understand more about the illness, it is important to get the facts. This helps you to comprehend not only the medical aspects of HIV and AIDS, but also the personal aspects. Seeking advice from people also affected by the illness can help too. They can answer your questions by sharing their experiences.

Published May 27, 2018

avatar Carenity Editorial Team

Author: Carenity Editorial Team, Editorial Team

The Carenity Editorial Team is made up of experienced editors and specialists in the healthcare field who aim to provide impartial and high quality information. Our editorial content is proofread, edited and... >> Learn more

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