an initialism of Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a type of retrovirus that damages the human immune system: thus, it compromises the body’s ability to fight off illnesses.
As a result, as HIV continues to weaken and damage a person’s immune system, it leads to the development of AIDS. People that have HIV are known to be HIV+. Not all people that are HIV+ also have AIDS; if left untreated, HIV+ typically develop AIDS, but with the help of antiviral treatments, people who are HIV+ are at a far lower risk of developing AIDS as a result.
There is no cure for either HIV or AIDS, however.
HIV is transmitted through certain body liquids: blood, semen, vaginal and anal liquids, and breast milk. It is not transmitted through saliva, tears or sweat, nor can it be spread from hugging, coughing/sneezing, sharing dishes or using the same facilities as someone who is HIV+.
As such, some common ways that HIV is transmitted is through unprotected sexual intercourse; by using needles that may have been used by a person with HIV; from mothers during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding; or from blood transfusions when blood is used from someone who is HIV+.
As such, safe sex is an important thing to do in order to avoid acquiring or transmitting HIV, and it is important for people not to share or use previously-used needles (to inject drugs, for example). It is also important to ensure that any tattoos you may get are from licensed, trustworthy facilities.
Originally published: 4th December, 2020
Last modified: February 9, 2022