What is AIDS?

AIDS is the late stage of infection with the HIV (Human Immuno–deficiency Virus) and can take around 7 to 10 years to develop after infection with HIV. HIV is transmitted through semen and vaginal fluids, infected blood and blood products, infected mother to her baby before birth, during birth or through breast milk.

A person who is HIV positive has HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. HIV damages the immune system, the part of the body that fights infection. Over time, the immune system becomes very weak. This stage of HIV is called AIDS. No one knows for sure when a person with HIV will get AIDS. HIV is different in different people. It can take a long time for HIV to make the person sick.

Many people with HIV stay healthy for years. Understanding what it means to be HIV positive helps everyone. It helps people with HIV take the best care of themselves. It helps others give people with HIV the support they need and deserve.