The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) attacks the body’s immune system. A healthy immune system is what keeps you from getting sick. When HIV damages your immune system, you are more likely to get sick from bacteria and viruses. It is also harder for your body to fight off these infections when you do get them, so you may have trouble getting better.
Symptoms of HIV
When first infected with HIV, you may not experience any symptoms. More often, though, you’ll have flu-like symptoms, including:
What causes HIV?
HIV can only be passed from person to person through body fluids, such as blood, semen, and vaginal fluid. Children born to infected mothers can also become infected during pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. However, this happens less often now. It can be prevented by giving medicines to the pregnant mother and to her newborn baby.
Even though there is no cure for HIV, there are many medicines available to help combat it. These medicines (called antiretroviral therapy or ART) will often prevent HIV from progressing to AIDS. Even when HIV does progress to AIDS, antiretroviral therapy is often still effective. However, it is most effective the earlier you begin treatment.