HIV Basics

If you think you may have been infected with HIV/AIDS, please find a place to get a free, confidential HIV test.

HIV stands for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, and is the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).  It is a virus that attacks the immune system. 

Over time, and without treatment, HIV gradually destroys the body's defenses against disease, leaving it vulnerable to many infections and cancers that do not normally develop.

Some people living with HIV have no symptoms even without treatment; some have mild health problems, while others rapidly develop severe health problems associated with AIDS. 

AIDS is a late stage of HIV disease.  By the time of an AIDS diagnosis, HIV has already seriously damaged the body's immune system.  Often, a person living with AIDS will already have had life-threatening infections or cancers. 

Proper medical treatment can significantly slow down HIV, and decrease its impact on the immune system. Some people now living with HIV may never develop AIDS and can live a normal life span.  Studies indicate that starting treatment very soon after infection makes a significant difference.

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