HIV (human immunodeficiency virus, the virus that causes AIDS) can be transmitted through sexual contact or other exchange of bodily fluids, including using a needle contaminated with the virus. The virus can also be transmitted from an infected mother to her unborn child during pregnancy or when breastfeeding.
HIV management involves long-term use of multiple medications taken under often complex dosing schedules which can involve multiple doses of medications taken throughout the day. HIV treatment is often referred to as antiretroviral therapy, or ART. Today's HIV medications can help slow the progression of the disease dramatically, allowing many people infected with the virus to lead normal, healthy lives for many years after being diagnosed with HIV. ART typically involves two of more or the following types (classes)of medications:
Combining different classes of drugs is important since each class attacks the virus in different ways. In addition to taking medication, you'll need to have blood tests on a regular basis to monitor the progression of the infection and adjust your therapy as needed.
No, HIV can exist in your body for years before it causes AIDS, or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. HIV is simply the virus that causes the disease to eventually develop after HIV has caused significant permanent damage to your body's immune system so it can no longer fight off even mild infections.
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