What is hiv/aids?

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How are HIV and AIDS treated?

HIV is treated with a combination of medicines. This is called antiretroviral therapy, or ART. Antiretroviral medicines slow the rate at which the virus grows.

These medicines can reduce the amount of virus in your body. This can help you stay healthy.

After you start treatment, take your medicines exactly as your doctor tells you. When treatment doesn't work, it is often because HIV has become resistant to the medicine. This can happen if you don't take your medicines in the right way.

Health care workers who are at risk for HIV because of an accidental stick with a needle or other exposure to body fluids should get medicine to prevent infection.

Treatment for AIDS

If HIV progresses to a late stage, treatment will be started or continued to keep your immune system as healthy as possible.

If you get any diseases that point to AIDS, such as Pneumocystis pneumonia or Kaposi sarcoma, your doctor will treat them.

What are human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)?

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the immune system, the body's natural defense system. Without a strong immune system, the body has trouble fighting off disease. Both the virus and the infection it causes are called HIV.

White blood cells are an important part of the immune system. HIV infects and destroys certain white blood cells called CD4+ cells. If too many CD4+ cells are destroyed, the body can no longer defend itself against infection.

HIV can be treated. Most of the time, treatment can prevent acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and help people live long, healthy lives.

If HIV is not treated, it will usually get worse over time and cause AIDS. AIDS is the most severe stage of HIV infection. In people who don't get treatment, it often takes 10 to 12 years for AIDS to develop. People who have AIDS have a low number of CD4+ cells. They get infections or cancers that rarely occur in healthy people. These can be deadly.

There are two types of HIV:

  • HIV-1, which causes almost all the cases of AIDS worldwide.
  • HIV-2, which causes an AIDS-like illness. HIV-2 infection is rare in North America.

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