HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that is spread when an infected person’s body fluids, such as blood, semen, fluids from the vagina or breast milk enters another person’s bloodstream. It can enter a person’s bloodstream through linings in the mouth, anus, penis, vagina or broken skin.
This life-threatening virus weakens a person’s ability to fight infection and cancer. Having HIV doesn’t always mean a person will develop AIDS, although most do. And, you can have HIV without symptoms for many years and unknowingly spread it to others.
HIV attacks and destroys a certain type of white blood cell whose main function is to fight disease. When the white blood cell count gets too low, the body can’t fight infections.
The only way to know if you have HIV is to have a blood test.
What is AIDS?
AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is the last stage of HIV infection. There is no cure for HIV or AIDS, but with the latest advancements in treatment, a person can live a productive life for many years by getting good medical care from doctors experienced in treating people with HIV/AIDS.
Risk Factors in Spreading HIV
How to Protect Yourself
*Models used for illustration purposes only.
For more information about HIV/AIDS and other related health risks, listed below are resources available to you:
HIV Health and Human Services Planning Council of New York
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene