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What is HIV?

Human Immunodeficiency Virus

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus and is a virus which attacks the body’s immune system, leaving it with reduced protection against infections and illness.

While HIV remains a serious medical condition with no known cure, HIV treatment has progressed so far that with early diagnosis and ongoing regular treatment, people with HIV can expect to live long and healthy lives.

It is important to know your HIV status as if undiagnosed or left untreated, HIV will continue to attack and weaken the immune system leaving the body significantly more at risk of developing serious infections and diseases.

The term AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) has been used to describe those in the late stages of HIV infection, when an infected person’s immune system is significantly weakened and can no longer protect against certain life-threatening infections and illnesses. It is unlikely that the term AIDS would be used today, particularly in a healthcare environment where it is likely to be referred to as advanced or late-stage HIV. Late stage HIV is unusual in the UK as early diagnosis and effective treatment means fewer people than ever now reach that stage.