What is HIV/Aids?

HIV attacks and gradually destroys the immune system, which protects the body against infections. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Aids) is caused by infection with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

Causes of HIV/Aids

According to researchers, two viruses cause AIDS, namely HIV-1 and HIV-2. These viruses belong to a family called the retroviruses and are able to infect a person for the rest of that person's life.

Risk factors for HIV infection

Examples of people most at risk for HIV infection are: people who have unprotected sex, people who have many sexual partners, people who share needles.

Progression of HIV/Aids

The disease is best understood as a continuum from initial infection to terminal illness.

Diseases related to HIV

HIV weakens your immune system and increases your risk for secondary infection. It is therefore important to take note of related diseases.

Symptoms of HIV/Aids

The symptoms of HIV infection include the following: fever and nights sweats, swollen glands, diarrhoea, aching muscles and tiredness.

Diagnosing HIV/Aids

Find information on diagnostic testing for HIV/Aids, when to get tested and how the testing procedure pinpoints a positive or negative result.

Prevention of HIV infection

HIV is spread by direct contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids, which include semen, vaginal fluid, blood or breast milk.

Treating HIV/Aids

HIV/AIDS is treated by anti-retroviral therapy and the management of opportunistic infections. It is also important to stay healthy to maintain a strong immune system.

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Ask the Expert

HIV/Aids expert

Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria in 2005. She is a patients' rights activist and loves using social media to teach about HIV. She is in private practice in Johannesburg.

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