Also called: AIDS, Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, HIV, Human immunodeficiency virus

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It harms your immune system by destroying the white blood cells that fight infection. This puts you at risk for serious infections and certain cancers. AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. It is the final stage of infection with HIV. Not everyone with HIV develops AIDS.

HIV most often spreads through unprotected sex with an infected person. It may also spread by sharing drug needles or through contact with the blood of an infected person. Women can give it to their babies during pregnancy or childbirth.

The first signs of HIV infection may be swollen glands and flu-like symptoms. These may come and go within two to four weeks. Severe symptoms may not appear until months or years later.

A blood test can tell if you have HIV infection. Your health care provider can do the test, or you can use a home testing kit. Or to find free testing sites, call the national referral hotline at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636 in English and en español; 1-888-232-6348 - TTY).

There is no cure, but there are many medicines that fight HIV infection and lower the risk of infecting others. People who get early treatment can live with the disease for a long time.

Symptoms of HIV/AIDS

The following features are indicative of HIV/AIDS:
  • fever
  • headache
  • rash
  • muscle or joint pain
  • sore throat
  • swollen lymph glands
  • fever
  • fatigue
  • diarrhea
  • weight loss
  • night sweat
  • yeast infection
It is possible that HIV/AIDS shows no physical symptoms and still is present in a patient.

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Common Causes of HIV/AIDS

The following are the most common causes of HIV/AIDS:
  • human immunodeficiency virus
  • fall in CD4 count
  • sexual contact
  • blood transfusion
  • sharing needles
  • pregnancy
  • breastfeeding

Risk Factors for HIV/AIDS

The following factors may increase the likelihood of HIV/AIDS:
  • unprotected sex
  • sharing needles
  • having sexually transmitted disease
  • using intravenous drugs

Prevention of HIV/AIDS

Yes, it may be possible to prevent HIV/AIDS. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • use condoms during sex
  • get HIV test done before sex
  • be monogamous
  • limit sexual partners
  • do not douche
  • do not abuse drugs or alcohol
  • preventing mother to child transmission
  • avoid breast feeding

Occurrence of HIV/AIDS

Number of Cases

The following are the number of HIV/AIDS cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

HIV/AIDS can occur at any age.

Common Gender

HIV/AIDS can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of HIV/AIDS

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect HIV/AIDS:
  • Screening test: To check the presence of HIV antibody and antigen in blood sample
  • CD4 count: To check CD4 (white blood cells) count
  • Viral load: To measure the amount of virus in blood
  • Drug resistance: To check the resistance of the HIV strain to anti-HIV medications
  • Other lab tests: To test other infections like tuberculosis, hepatitis, urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted infections

Doctor for Diagnosis of HIV/AIDS

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of HIV/AIDS:
  • HIV specialist

Complications of HIV/AIDS if untreated

Yes, HIV/AIDS causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if HIV/AIDS is left untreated:
  • tuberculosis
  • cytomegalovirus
  • candidiasis
  • cryptococcal meningitis
  • toxoplasmosis
  • cryptosporidiosis
  • kaposi's sarcoma
  • lymphomas
  • wasting syndrome
  • neurological complications
  • kidney disease

Procedures for Treatment of HIV/AIDS

The following procedures are used to treat HIV/AIDS:
  • Antiretroviral therapy: Raises the CD4 cell count

Self-care for HIV/AIDS

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of HIV/AIDS:
  • eat healthy food
  • maintain hygiene
  • get regular immunizations

Patient Support for Treatment of HIV/AIDS

The following actions may help HIV/AIDS patients:
  • Communicate with your partner: Keeps you healthy
  • Join support group: Helps in managing HIV

Time for Treatment of HIV/AIDS

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for HIV/AIDS to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • Disease cannot be treated but only maintained or effects reduced

Is HIV/AIDS Infectious?

Yes, HIV/AIDS is known to be infectious. It can spread across people via the following means:
  • blood transfusion
  • sharing needles
  • pregnant mother to fetus
  • breast feeding
  • unprotected sexual contact

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for HIV/AIDS.
HIV/AIDS and Infections
HIV/AIDS and Pregnancy
HIV/AIDS in Women
HIV/AIDS Medicines
Kaposi's Sarcoma
Living with HIV/AIDS