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What is HIV and how do you get it?

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. HIV is a viral infection that can lead to AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome). When people first get infected with HIV, they often have no symptoms or very mild symptoms. The virus continues to weaken the immune system over a period of years. This can allow for specific infections and diseases to occur that a healthy immune system can typically fight off. At this point, the person is diagnosed with AIDS. With medication, an AIDS diagnosis may never happen or may take decades to happen. HIV can be managed with the right medications but there is no cure.

HIV is transmitted through blood, semen, vaginal fluids or breast milk. If people already have a sexually transmitted disease (STD) and they’re exposed to HIV, their chances of getting HIV are increased.

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