AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a life-threatening condition that is the result of the
human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV resides in the body fluids of infected individuals, including blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and
breast milk. HIV can be transmitted during activities that transmit bodily fluidsPrevention of AIDS is achieved through the use of condoms, HIV testing, not sharing needles, wearing
gloves when in the presence of bodily fluids, and not breastfeeding infants if infected.HIV infection destroys helper T-lymphocytes by causing them to produce HIV RNA at a rate that
induces lysis, and by the targeting of helper T-lymphocytes by other immune cells.
Several weeks or months after initial HIV infection, many individuals will experience flulike symptoms.
Although the body’s immune cells target and destroy infected cells, HIV replicates at a faster rate than the
immune system can cope with.
HIV blood tests detect HIV antibodies in the blood, which are produced about a month after initial
infection but can take up to 6 months to be detected by tests. HIV infection is diagnosed as AIDS when a person’s helper T-lymphocyte count drops below 200 cells
per cubic milliliter, or when a person develops an opportunistic infection or illness. Opportunistic infections are those that thrive due to the compromised immune system; they account for
up to 80% of AIDS-related deaths. There is no cure for HIV, and treatment is aimed at alleviating symptoms and preventing the spread of
HIV in the body.