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What is HIV?

HIV or human immunodeficiency virus is a virus that is known to result in AIDS. This virus may be transmitted from one individual to another through sexual and blood-to-blood contact. HIV positive pregnant women may also transfer this virus to their baby during pregnancy, delivery or through breast-feeding.

What is AIDS? How is it caused?

AIDS stands for Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome. An HIV positive person may be given a diagnosis of AIDS if he or she develops one of the AIDS indicator illnesses defined by the Centre of Disease Control. Even HIV-positive individuals without any serious illnesses can be said to have AIDS depending on the results of certain blood tests. Studies have discovered that most individuals with HIV may carry the virus for years before the immune system is weak enough for AIDS to develop.

What does a positive result mean?

If a person tests positive for HIV, it does not mean that the person has AIDS. The human immunodeficiency virus if present in the body is known to weaken the immune system so that it becomes difficult to fight against particular infections. People with a healthy immune system easily control many diseases that may be life threatening for those with HIV. When the immune system is weakened to a critical extent, medical intervention may be needed to prevent or treat such illnesses. 

How long does it take for HIV to cause AIDS?

It can take anywhere from between a few months to several years for AIDS to develop. This time differs for various individuals depending on factors such as a person's health position and health related activities.

View wider list of FAQs on HIV/AIDS (External website that opens in a new window).

Source: National Portal Content Management Team, Reviewed on:10-02-2011