HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus that can lead to AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).
You can get HIV through contact with infected blood, semen, vaginal fluids, sharing needles and from mother to baby. You can also get it with a blood transfusion in countries that do not pre-test blood for transfusion (New Zealand does pre-test for transfusions).
What are the symptoms of HIV and AIDS?
Often there are no obvious symptoms for years, but symptoms can include early flu-like illness and frequent attacks of thrush and other infections.
How serious is HIV and AIDS?
HIV is a serious disease which weakens the immune system and the body's ability to fight life-threatening infections and cancer. There is no cure for HIV but there are treatments that can control the virus and people with HIV now live much longer.
The medical information in JUST THE FACTS is based on the STIEF and NZ Sexual Health Society Guidelines for the management of STIs. The New Zealand Ministry of Health supports the use of these clinical guidelines, developed by clinical experts and professional associations to guide clinical care in New Zealand.