“HIV” stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. A virus is a very small germ that can cause disease, and HIV is a virus that causes a weakening of the infected person's immune system.
“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 (OIs).
Approximately 50,000 new HIV infections occur in the United States each year. In the U.S., HIV is spread mainly by: Having sex with someone who has HIV, sharing needles and syringes with an infected person (direct blood to blood contact) and from an infected mother to her baby. It is not spread by coughs, sneezes, hugs, kisses, mosquitos, sharing cups or utencils or any other casual contact. .
Information for the General Public
Information for Public Health Departments
- American Sexual Health Association
- Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
- Mayo Clinic
- MedLine Plus
- National Institutes of Health
- National Prevention Information Network (NPIN)
- Planned Parenthood
- Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program