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HIV affects the strength or fighting ability of the human body's immune system. This means that the body's self defence mechanism (CD4 cells) for fighting foreign contagions and bacteria becomes significantly reduced. HIV can be contracted through sexual transmission (blood, semen or vaginal fluid), infected blood transfusion, infected needle sharing and potentially from mother to child.
Diagnosed early and with the quick administration of medication, HIV infected individuals can live long and healthy lives. HIV should not be mistaken for AIDs (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) which is a late-stage development of HIV. A person is considered to have developed AIDs when the HIV virus has weakened their immune system to a point where other serious illnesses manifest e.g. encephalitis, Kaposi's sarcoma, pneumonia, etc.
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