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Living with HIV

By Glenna C. Bailey

Living with HIV can be tough. But we can help. HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is the virus that causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). We’ll help you understand the signs and symptoms of HIV and AIDS. And share info about prevention.

What is HIV?

HIV weakens your immune system. It makes it harder for your body to fight infections. And over time, it increases your chances of getting more infections, diseases or cancers. There is no cure for HIV yet. But with the right medical care, it can be treated. HIV spreads through bodily fluids, like:

  • Blood
  • Semen
  • Vaginal and rectal fluids
  • Breast milk

What are the symptoms of HIV?

A person might not show HIV symptoms for years. You should get a blood test done if you think you’ve been infected. Symptoms may be mild at first. But they may get worse and last longer over time. Some symptoms of HIV may include:

  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin rashes
  • Sores

What is AIDS?

AIDS is the last stage of HIV. You’ll want to follow all your doctor’s instructions closely if you have this diagnosis. AIDS severely affects your nervous system and attacks your immune system. By this point in the infection, you may have: 

  • A serious cancer
  • Seizures or memory loss
  • Symptoms of another chronic disease

How can I prevent HIV?

You can prevent HIV infection by:

  • Using condoms when you have sex
  • Not sharing needles with other people
  • Limiting your number of sexual partners
  • Keeping your cuts clean


About the author

Glenna C. Bailey is a health literacy champion, fan of the Apostrophe Protection Society and staunch supporter of the serial comma. She loves writing about consumer health and making info easier to find, understand and act on.

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