Join for Just $16 A Year
- Discounts on travel and everyday savings
- Subscription to AARP The Magazine
- Free membership for your spouse or partner
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a systemic viral infection that weakens the body's ability to fight infection and can cause acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS, the last stage of HIV disease). HIV preventative measures are a set of procedures that lower the risk of health care professionals being exposed to the virus.
HIV is the most dangerous sexually transmitted disease (STD), affecting people of all ages. In 1999, HIV was considered the fifth cause of death among American men and women between 25 and 44 years of age. It is
Most HIV-positive people are men. According to a 2001 survey by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (www.cdc.gov), of 3,000 gay and bisexual men in six major U.S. cities (interviewed in public places, such as gay clubs and bars), 4.4% of gay and bisexual men, ages 23 to 29, are infected with HIV every year. Another study in 2001, also conducted by the CDC, reported that HIV infections among gay men of all races in their 20s were common in large American cities. Thirty percent of blacks, 15% of Hispanics, 7% of whites, and 3% of Asians were affected with HIV. In the general population, one in seven blacks becomes HIV-positive each year.
HIV infection can present no clinical symptoms, cause a spectrum of conditions, or appear as full-blown AIDS. A unique virus, HIV continually reproduces after it enters the body, eventually overwhelming the immune system and weakening the body's ability to fight lethal infections and cancers.
Most people infected with HIV are not ill. Some are without symptoms for more than 10 years. A "carrier" can host the virus and pass it on to other people without knowing it. Once the virus is established in the body, the chances of getting AIDS increase.
Some of the frequently reported symptoms of HIV/AIDS infections are:
Many HIV/AIDS symptoms are similar to those of tuberculosis, influenza, pneumonia, minor yeast infections, and other STDs. Basically healthy people tend to ignore their symptoms until they are ill enough to seeks medical care.
HIV is found in bodily fluids. It is most prevalent in blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk. HIV infection cannot be transmitted through casual contact. Rather, HIV is transmitted by sexual contact with an infected person, exposure to contaminated blood (e.g., by sharing needles or accidental exposure to contaminated needles) and maternal-fetal transfer.
Activities that spread HIV/AIDS to others are:
Author Info: Aliene S. Linwood B.S.N., R.N., D.P.A., F.A.C.H.E., The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit, Gale Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health, 2002This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your healthcare provider. Please consult a healthcare professional with any health concerns you may have.
Enter your symptoms in our Symptom Checker to find out possible causes of your symptoms. Go.
Enter any list of prescription drugs and see how they interact with each other and with other substances. Go.
Enter its color and shape information, and this tool helps you identify it. Go.
Find information on drug interactions, side effects, and more. Go.
Member access to health and insurance products and services at AARPhealthcare.com.
Members can get an instant quote with AARP® Dental Insurance administered by Delta Dental Insurance Company.
Members can save on eyewear with AARP® Vision Discounts provided by EyeMed.
Caregiving can be a lonely journey, but AARP offers resources that can help.