What is HIV?

What is HIV?

HIV is a virus which, if not treated, can cause a life threatening medical condition called AIDS. HIV stands for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Over time, this virus attacks the body’s natural defence against diseases (the immune system), which makes a person vulnerable to certain infections and malignancies.

If successfully treated, HIV is a manageable disease and life expectancy is normal, so long as medication is taken appropriately and consistently.


What is AIDS?

AIDS is a medical diagnosis caused by long term HIV infection. AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

Someone has AIDS when their immune system has been damaged so badly by HIV that they are unable to fight off a wide range of illnesses that people without an immune related illness, such as HIV, would normally be able to cope with.

It may take years for signs and symptoms of AIDS to occur. Most AIDS defining illnesses can be treated or prevented with medication.

With current medications, many people with HIV remain well for many years and do not need hospitalisation.