Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a lot like other viruses, including those
that cause the “flu" or the common cold. But there is an important
difference – over time, your immune system can clear most viruses out of
your body. That isn't the case with HIV – the human immune system can't
seem to get rid of it. Scientists are still trying to figure out why.
We know that HIV can hide for long periods of time in the cells of your body
and that it attacks a key part of your immune system – your T-cells or CD4
cells. Your body has to have these cells to fight infections and disease, but
HIV invades them, uses them to make more copies of itself, and then
Over time, HIV can destroy so many of your CD4 cells that your body can't
fight infections and diseases anymore. When that happens, HIV infection can
lead to AIDS.
The Causes of HIV
HIV infects cells of the immune system, the body’s defence
system, making it unable to fight off infections.
The virus enters the immune system’s CD4 cells, which protect
the body against various bacteria, viruses and other germs.
It uses the CD4 cells to make thousands of copies of itself.
These copies then leave the CD4 cells, killing them in the
This process continues until eventually the number of CD4
cells, also called your CD4 count, drops so low that your
immune system stops working.
This can take about 10 years, during which time you will feel
and appear well. Find out more about the symptoms of HIV
How HIV is spread
HIV is not passed on easily from one person to another. The virus does not
spread through the air like cold and flu viruses.
HIV lives in the blood and in some body fluids. To get HIV, one of these fluids
from someone with HIV has to get into your blood.
The body fluids that contain enough HIV to infect someone are:
vaginal fluids, including menstrual blood
lining inside the anus
It's best to combine at least three drugs from two different classes to avoid
creating strains of HIV that are immune to single drugs. The classes of anti-HIV
Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs). NNRTIs disable a
protein needed by HIV to make copies of itself. Examples include efavirenz
(Sustiva), etravirine (Intelence) and nevirapine (Viramune).
Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). NRTIs are faulty versions
of building blocks that HIV needs to make copies of itself. Examples include
Abacavir (Ziagen), and the combination drugs emtricitabine and tenofovir
(Truvada), and lamivudine and zidovudine (Combivir).
Protease inhibitors (PIs). PIs disable protease, another protein that HIV needs
to make copies of itself. Examples include atazanavir (Reyataz), darunavir
(Prezista), fosamprenavir (Lexiva) and ritonavir (Norvir).
Entry or fusion inhibitors. These drugs block HIV's entry into CD4 cells.
Examples include enfuvirtide (Fuzeon) and maraviroc (Selzentry).
Integrase inhibitors. Raltegravir (Isentress) works by disabling integrase, a
protein that HIV uses to insert its genetic material into CD4 cells.
There's no vaccine to prevent HIV infection and no cure for
AIDS. But it's possible to protect yourself and others from
infection. That means educating yourself about HIV and
avoiding any behavior that allows HIV-infected fluids — blood,
semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk — into your body.
To help prevent the spread of HIV:
Use a new condom every time you have sex.
Consider the drug Truvada.
Tell your sexual partners if you have HIV.
Use a clean needle.
If you're pregnant, get medical care right away.
Consider male circumcision.
AIDS stands for (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)
AIDS is the final stages of HIV
Its when it is unable to defend itself against invaders like bacteria, other
viruses, and fungi, and allows for the development of cancer
Its not something you inherit from your parents
It only affect humans and it is transmitted through blood