HIV is a virus which is most commonly passed on by sexual contact. HIV attacks cells of the immune system. Untreated, the immune system weakens so that the body cannot defend against various bacteria, viruses and other germs. This is when AIDS (commonly now called late-stage HIV infection) develops. However, early detection and treatment with antiretroviral therapy (ART) means that people living with HIV can lead active, healthy lives, although they may get side-effects from the treatment.
What are HIV and AIDS?
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. This is a virus in the group of viruses called retroviruses. HIV destroys cells in the body called CD4 T cells. CD4 T cells are a type of lymphocyte (a white blood cell). These are important cells involved in protecting the body against various bacteria, viruses and other germs. HIV actually multiplies within CD4 cells. HIV cannot be destroyed by white blood cells, as it keeps on changing its outer