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“All About HIV”
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HIV is a virus that targets and alters the immune system, increasing the risk and impact of other infections and diseases. Without treatment, the infection might progress to an advanced disease stage called AIDS. However, modern advances in treatment mean that people living with HIV in countries with good access to healthcare very rarely develop AIDS once they are receiving treatment. The life expectancy of a person who carries the HIV virus is now approaching that of a person that tests negative for the virus, as long as they adhere to a combination of medications called antiretroviral therapy (ART) on an ongoing basis.
HIV is a lifelong infection. Α person can carry HIV without experiencing symptoms for a long time. However, receiving treatment and managing the disease effectively can prevent HIV from reaching a severe level and reduce the risk of a person passing on the virus.
No cure is currently available for HIV or AIDS.
However, treatments can stop the progression of the condition and allow most people living with HIV the opportunity to live a long and relatively healthy life. Starting ART early in the progression of the virus is crucial. This improves quality of life, extends life expectancy, and reduces the risk of transmission.
More effective and better-tolerated treatments have evolved that can improve general health and quality of life by taking as little as one pill per day. A person living with HIV can reduce their viral load to such a degree that it is no longer detectable in a blood test. After assessing a number of large studies, the CDC concluded that individuals who have no detectable viral load "have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to an HIV-negative partner."
Why Is Awareness Raising Important?
Common misconceptions about AIDS and HIV are reducing as understanding of the disease increases. Stigma around the condition continues in many parts of the world. People living with HIV may feel excluded, persecuted, and isolated. Medical professionals refer to this as undetectable = untransmittable (U=U).