What is HIV?
HIV stands for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a virus which attacks the body’s immune system – the body’s defense against diseases. When someone is described as living with HIV, they have the HIV virus in their body.
What is AIDS?
AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. A person with HIV is considered to have developed AIDS when the immune system is so weak it can no longer fight off a range of diseases with which it would normally cope.
How is HIV passed on?
HIV can be passed on through infected blood, semen, vaginal fluids, rectal secretions or breast milk.
The most common ways HIV is passed on are:
- Sex without a condom
- Sharing infected needles, syringes or other injecting drug equipment
Is there a cure for HIV?
No, but treatment can keep the virus under control and the immune system healthy. People on HIV treatment can live a healthy, active life – although some may experience side effects from the treatment. If HIV is diagnosed late, treatment is likely to be less effective.
How can I protect myself and others from HIV infection?
Always use a condom when having vaginal or anal sex. You may also want to use a condom or dental dam during oral sex although the risk of transmission of HIV is much lower. You can get free condoms from a sexual health clinic, which you can locate at via the FPA website. Never share needles, syringes or any other injecting equipment.