Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

What is HIV?

HIV is a sexually transmitted and blood-borne infection (STBBI) that affects a person’s immune system, making the body unable to defend itself against other infections and illnesses. HIV doesn’t always show symptoms in the person affected by it until several years after they are infected, which is why it’s so important to get tested. If left untreated, HIV gradually wears down the immune system and can progress into Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). AIDS is a chronic, possibly life-threatening condition and is the most advanced stage of HIV, in which infections and cancer pose a much greater risk.

However, with proper treatment and care using antiretroviral therapy (ART), people living with HIV can have long and healthy lives. In addition, if a person living with HIV adheres to ART in the long term, the virus will be suppressed and will become undetectable.  When a virus becomes undetectable, it also becomes untransmittable (referred to as U=U), meaning that the person with HIV cannot transmit the virus to another person. To learn more about what Undetectable = Untransmittable means, check out U=U.

To learn more about HIV, check out CATIE