Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus
which affects the immune system. HIV is present in the blood, semen and
vaginal fluids of people who are infected. Any person who has the virus
can pass it on through these fluids. A person who does not have the
virus can become infected by contact with any of these fluids from an
Once infected, a person remains infected - and infectious - for
life. People with HIV infection may have no symptoms for many years.
The virus, however, slowly damages the person's immune system.
Ultimately, the immune system becomes ineffective and serious
infections and/or cancers develop. This disease is known as Acquired
Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
HIV is diagnosed with a blood test. It can take up to 6 months
after being infected with the HIV virus before the blood tests becomes
positive. If the test is positive, it means you have acquired the HIV
infection and are infectious to others. HIV is now a treatable
long-term condition, and there are many support services for people
living with HIV.