What is HIV/AIDS?
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that causes AIDS. This virus may be passed from one person to another when infected blood, semen, or vaginal secretions come in contact with an uninfected person’s broken skin or mucous membranes.
AIDS is caused by infection with HIV. In addition, infected pregnant women can pass HIV to their babies during pregnancy or delivery, as well as through breast feeding. People with HIV have what is called HIV infection. Some of these people will develop AIDS as a result of their HIV infection.
What are the Risk Factors?
HIV can infect anyone who practices risky behaviors such as sharing drug needles or syringes; having sexual contact, including oral, with an infected person without using a condom, and/or having sexual contact with someone whose HIV status is unknown
General Signs and Symptoms of HIV/AIDS?
Many people who are infected with HIV do not have any symptoms at all for many years. Nor can you rely on symptoms to establish that a person has AIDS. The symptoms of AIDS are similar to the symptoms of many other illnesses.
The following may be warning signs: rapid weight loss; dry cough, recurring fever or profuse night sweats; profound and unexplained fatigue; swollen lymph glands in the armpits, groin or neck; diarrhea that lasts for more than a week; white spots or unusual blemishes on the tongue, in the mouth, or in the throat; red, brown, pink, or purplish blotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids; memory loss, depression and other neurological disorders.
Screening for HIV/AIDS
The only way to determine whether you are infected is to be tested for HIV infection. For information on where to find an HIV testing site, visit the National HIV Testing Resources Web site at www.hivtest.org or call CDC-INFO 24 Hours/Day at 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636), 1-888-232-6348 (TTY), in English and Spanish.
How is HIV/AIDS Treated?
When AIDS first surfaced in the United States, there were no medicines to combat the underlying immune deficiency and few treatments existed for the opportunistic diseases that resulted. Researchers, however, have developed drugs to fight both HIV infection and its associated infections and cancers.
For more information on HIV/AIDS, go to:
CDC National Prevention Information Network (NPIN)