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What Is HIV?

HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is a virus that attacks the immune system. It it transmitted through blood, breast milk, semen, and vaginal/rectal fluids. It can only be passed through certain sexual activity, blood transfusions (before 1985), and by sharing syringes. Once in your system, HIV will begin attacking your immune system and the specific cells that help your body fight infections. Without medical intervention, this virus can eventually damage your immune system so much that even relatively minor infections can become fatal. It’s at the point that HIV enters a late stage and becomes AIDS (Aquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).

Though there are excellent medical treatment and management options for HIV and AIDS, there is no cure. Someone living with HIV or AIDS will be put on antiretroviral treatment, which is a combination of medications specifically chosen by the patient’s medical provider to ensure the patient stays healthy.

If a person who currently does not have HIV would like to stay negative, medications like PrEP can help prevent HIV infection.

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