Frequently asked questions about HIV and AIDS

| November 25, 2022

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HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. HIV is a retrovirus that infects cells of the human immune system and destroys or impairs their function. Infection with this virus results in the progressive depletion of the immune system, leading to immunodeficiency. The term AIDS applies to the most advanced stages of HIV infection. Most people infected with HIV do not know that they have become infected. The majority of people infected with HIV, if not treated, develop signs of AIDS within eight to 10 years.

To help you understand HIV and AIDS, UNAIDS has created a list of frequently asked questions and responses about HIV and AIDS. 

This resource answers questions such as:

  • What causes the transmission of HIV?
  • How can HIV infection be prevented?
  • What treatment is available?

The resource also has answers to common myths about HIV and AIDS, as well as information on how to get tested for HIV.To read the full resource, go to:

Photo: A human T cell (blue) under attack by HIV (yellow). Credit: Seth Pincus, Elizabeth Fischer and Austin Athman, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases/NIH