What is HIV?

Some people still think of AIDS when they hear HIV. But HIV and AIDS are different. 

HIV is short for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This virus infects and destroys the cells in your body that fight off disease. This makes your immune system "deficient" — not strong enough to fight other infections, such as thrush or the herpes virus.

AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. AIDS is the stage of HIV infection where certain infections or conditions occur because of a very weak immune system.

HIV doesn’t always lead to AIDS. Treatment can keep HIV under control and prevent AIDS from developing.

HIV and Your Body

Below you can read more about how HIV interacts with your body, including how it affects white blood cells called CD4+ T cells. You will also learn about viral load and what it means when you have “undetectable” levels.