AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is caused by infection with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV. While HIV is a chronic illness, it is no longer a death sentence. In other words, if you get the disease, you can still live a long time.
During the 1980s, AIDS became a part of our vocabulary. With it, AIDS awareness became critical to our health education, as we learned that the disease existed and how it spread. While you and your family have likely learned a lot about AIDS over the past two and a half decades, World AIDS Day is a time to reflect on the disease and how much it has shaped our culture in the last generation. In honor of World AIDS Day, this December 1, we take a look at what we know about AIDS—what causes it and how to prevent it.
When you contract HIV, it attacks your body’s immune system, destroying the blood cells that help you fight off infection. If HIV destroys enough of these cells, known as CD4 or T-cells, you are diagnosed with AIDS.
HIV SymptomsNot everyone who contracts HIV experiences symptoms right away. Some may feel tired or have a fever within the first two months that they are infected, while others may feel nothing at all. With this in mind, the only way to be sure if you are infected is to get tested. You can get tested at your doctor’s office or your local public health clinic. You can also get information on testing centers near you by calling the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at 1-800-342-AIDS.
People with HIV may also experience the following:
HIV/AIDS PreventionTo protect yourself from the virus, you need to understand how the disease spreads.
While sexual transmission and sharing needles are the two most common ways to spread HIV, it can also be transmitted in the following ways:
Stopping the SpreadWhile scientists continue to make advances that can help people who are HIV positive live longer while they search for a cure, there are ways that you can help.
Still have questions? Ask us here for more information.
Last update: 10/15/2017
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