AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
- Acquired means you can get infected with it
- Immune Deficiency means a weakness in the body’s system that fights diseases
- Syndrome means a group of health problems in the body’s system that make up a disease
AIDS is caused by a virus called HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). Being HIV positive is not the same as having full-blown AIDS. Many people are HIV-positive but may not get sick for many years. As HIV progresses to full-blown AIDS, the immune system gets weaker, allowing viruses, parasites, fungi and bacteria, that usually don’t cause any problems, to cause opportunistic infections and make the HIV-positive person very sick.
Some people develop symptoms shortly after being infected. On average:
- It takes more than 7-10 years to develop symptoms
- There are several stages of HIV disease
- The first symptom of HIV disease is often swollen lymph glands in the throat, armpit, or groin
- Other early symptoms include slight fever, headaches, fatigue and muscle aches. They may only last for a few weeks. Then there are usually no symptoms for many years.
There is currently no cure for HIV/AIDS although there are a variety of new treatments and medication cocktails that help people manage the disease and maintain their normal life activities.
- Use condoms to prevent transmission of bodily fluids.
- Be tested and treated for sexually transmitted infections every year.
- Do not have sex if you have any open sores or rawness of skin because women and men with open sores from herpes and other infections get HIV more easily than other people.
- If you are a drug-user, avoid sharing needles with others and disinfect needles prior to use.
- Other preventative measures are limiting the number of sex partners, practicing sexual abstinence and avoiding sexual contact if you think you are infected.