HIV/AIDS Health Center

Human immune deficiency virus (HIV) can cause acquired immune deficiency syndrome (commonly known as AIDS). AIDS occurs when HIV, which attacks the body's immune system, has advanced far enough to make the body highly susceptible to infections.

HIV is primarily spread through sexual contact and exposure to infected blood or breast milk.

The human body is not capable of clearing HIV from the body, so HIV is a lifelong disease, but modern medicines can slow the spread of the virus enough to give patients near-normal life expectancies with early detection.

As of 2014, about 35.3 million people worldwide had HIV or AIDS, with the majority of new infections in low-income or developing countries, reports. About 2.3 million new infections were reported in 2012, according to World Health Organization (WHO) estimates.

Review Date: 
June 20, 2012
Last Updated:
July 21, 2014