“HIV” stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV is a lot like other viruses, including those that cause the “flu” or the common cold. But there is an important difference – over time, your immune system can clear most viruses out of your body. That isn’t the case with HIV – the human immune system can’t seem to get rid of it. That means that once you have HIV, you have it for life. that causes the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
- H – Human – This particular virus can only infect human beings.
- I – Immunodeficiency – HIV weakens your immune system by destroying important cells that fight disease and infection. A “deficient” immune system can’t protect you.
- V – Virus – A virus can only reproduce itself by taking over a cell in the body of its host.
“AIDS” stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection, and not everyone who has HIV advances to this stage. People at this stage of HIV disease have badly damaged immune systems, which put them at risk for opportunistic infections.
- A – Acquired – AIDS is not something you inherit from your parents. You acquire AIDS after birth.
- I – Immuno – Your body’s immune system includes all the organs and cells that work to fight off infection or disease.
- D – Deficiency – You get AIDS when your immune system is “deficient,” or isn’t working the way it should.
- S – Syndrome – A syndrome is a collection of symptoms and signs of disease. AIDS is a syndrome, rather than a single disease, because it is a complex illness with a wide range of complications and symptoms.