HIV

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus and is a virus that damages the body’s defence system making it hard to fight off infections. If someone with HIV goes on to get certain serious illnesses, this condition is called AIDS which stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

Symptoms and Warning signs

How do you get it?

There are four main ways in which HIV can be passed on:

  • By having vaginal, anal or oral sex without a condom with someone who has HIV.
  • By sharing needles, syringes or other drug-injecting equipment that is infected with HIV.
  • From a woman with HIV to her baby (before or during birth) and by breastfeeding.
  • By receiving infected blood, blood products or donated organs as part of medical treatment. In the UK all blood, blood products and donated organs are screened for HIV and infected materials are destroyed. This may not be the case in some developing countries and in Eastern Europe.

How do you treat it?

There is still no cure for HIV although drugs have been developed which mean that some people can stay well for longer.