What are HIV and AIDS?

HIV is a virus that can make you sick.

HIV (or Human Immunodeficiency Virus) weakens your immune system, your body’s built-in defense against disease and illness.


Anyone can be infected with HIV. You can have HIV without knowing it. You may not look or feel sick for years, but you can still pass the virus on to other people.

Without HIV treatment, your immune system can become too weak to fight off serious illnesses. HIV can also damage other parts of your body. Eventually, you can become sick with life-threatening infections.

This is the most serious stage of HIV infection, called AIDS (or Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome).

There is no vaccine to prevent HIV.

There is no cure for HIV – but there is treatment.

There is no cure for HIV, but with proper care and treatment, most people with HIV can avoid getting AIDS and can stay healthy for a long time.

Anti-HIV drugs have to be taken every day. They cannot get rid of HIV but they can keep it under control.

For more on HIV treatments, please see “Treating HIV

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