What are HIV & AIDS?
What is HIV?
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that damages your immune system so that your body becomes less effective at fighting off infection and other diseases. Once you get HIV, you cannot get rid of it. However, there are effective treatments which can minimise the amount of HIV in your body and limit damage to your immune system — keeping you in good health. These treatments can also greatly decrease the likelihood of passing on HIV to others during sex. Research for a cure is continuing but is expected to take many more years.
What is AIDS?
If you don’t take HIV treatments, your immune system can become severely damaged so that you develop serious “opportunistic infections” and diseases that make you feel very ill or can be fatal. A person at this stage is described as having AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).
As more people are diagnosed early in their illness and take modern antiretroviral treatments, people rarely progress to AIDS in Australia any more. Even people who are diagnosed late with an opportunistic infection or AIDS related cancer are generally expected to recover from such illnesses if they are treated effectively.