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Is HIV the same thing as AIDS? Do all people with AIDS die from it?

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a viral infection that usually leads to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). When people are first infected with HIV, they often have no symptoms or very mild symptoms. Later, the virus weakens the immune system, allowing specific infections and diseases to occur. At this point, the person is diagnosed with AIDS. People with an AIDS diagnosis still have HIV in their bodies, and if they have unprotected sex or share needles, they can transmit the virus to someone else.

Not all people with HIV develop AIDS. It’s impossible to say how someone’s body will respond to the infection, and there are different strains (kinds) of HIV. Most people with HIV, over time, get a weakened immune system that makes them more susceptible to infections and diseases that people with healthy immune systems typically don’t get. People with HIV sometimes use medications to help build their immune system, decrease the amount of the virus in the body and to treat the different illnesses caused by HIV.

For more information, check out the following sites:

Want to get tested for HIV? Find a clinic near you. And for more info, check out the Sex, Etc. stories “Does HIV Look Like Me?” and “I Have HIV…but HIV Does Not Have Me.” You might also want to read “Love & HIV: A Relationship That Works!”

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