WHAT IS HIV?

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is the virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS if not treated. Unlike some other viruses, the human body can’t get rid of HIV completely, even with treatment. So once you get HIV, you have it for life.


HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE HIV?

The only way to know for sure whether you have HIV is to get tested. Knowing your status is important because it helps you make healthy decisions to prevent getting or transmitting HIV.


WHERE DID HIV COME FROM?

Scientists identified a type of chimpanzee in Central Africa as the source of HIV infection in humans. They believe that the chimpanzee version of the immunodeficiency virus (called simian immunodeficiency virus, or SIV) most likely was transmitted to humans and mutated into HIV when humans hunted these chimpanzees for meat and came into contact with their infected blood. Studies show that HIV may have jumped from apes to humans as far back as the late 1800s.


WHAT ARE THE STAGES OF HIV?

When people get HIV and don’t receive treatment, they will typically progress through three stages of disease. Medicine to treat HIV, known as antiretroviral therapy (ART), helps people at all stages of the disease if taken the right way, every day. Treatment can slow or prevent progression from one stage to the next. It can also dramatically reduce the chance of transmitting HIV to someone else.

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Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.

- Kofi Annan

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