What do the acronyms HIV and AIDS stand for?

HIV and AIDS are terms that are often used together, and sometimes are used interchangeably, though they are not the same thing. They are both acronyms, and are related.

HIV stands for:

H – Human

I – Immunodeficiency

V – Virus

HIV is the virus that can cause AIDS. HIV infects humans and causes damage by taking over cells in the immune system—the part of the body which usually works to fight off germs, bacteria and disease.  

A – Acquired

I – Immune

D – Deficiency

S – Syndrome

AIDS is a group of symptoms that can eventually result from an HIV infection. HIV can damage the body’s immune system over time, and cause ongoing inflammation in the body. When that happens, the body may not be able to fight off certain types of illnesses or cancer. When the body’s immune system is damaged to a certain level because of HIV, this can mean a person is diagnosed with AIDS.  

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