Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome AIDS is a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus HIV. By damaging your immune system, HIV interferes with your body's ability to fight the organisms that cause disease. It can also be spread by contact with infected blood or from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breast-feeding. These drugs have reduced AIDS deaths in many developed nations. Most people infected by HIV develop a flu-like illness within a month or two after the virus enters the body.
How Do People Get AIDS?
Transmission of HIV/AIDS | Stanford Health Care
You can only get HIV by coming into direct contact with certain body fluids from a person with HIV who has a detectable viral load. These fluids are:. For transmission to occur, the HIV in these fluids must get into the bloodstream of an HIV-negative person through a mucous membrane found in the rectum, vagina, mouth, or tip of the penis ; open cuts or sores; or by direct injection. HIV can only be spread through specific activities. In the United States, the most common ways are:.
HIV is spread mainly through sexual contact. There are different forms of sexual contact: vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse and oral sex. All have a high risk of infection if done with an HIV-positive person. HIV can be transmitted between injecting drug users if the drug equipment needles, syringes or rinsing water is contaminated by HIV-infected fluids usually blood and is then reused by another person without first sterilizing it.
The most important sexually transmitted infections and infectious agents are:. Travellers who are infected with HIV should consult their personal physician for a detailed assessment and advice before travel. Sexual infections are transmitted during unprotected sexual intercourse both heterosexual and homosexual — anal, vaginal or oral.