Basic HIV/AIDS Info

What is HIV?

HIV is the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS. A member of a group of viruses called retroviruses, HIV infects human cells and uses the energy and nutrients provided by those cells to grow and reproduce. 950,000 people in the U.S. are infected with HIV.

What is AIDS?

AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a disease in which the body’s immune system breaks down and is unable to fight off certain infections, known as “opportunistic infections,” and other illnesses that take advantage of a weakened immune system.

HIV can be passed through: A person who is HIV-infected carries the virus in certain body fluids, including blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk.

  • Unprotected sexual intercourse (either vaginal or anal) with someone who is HIV infected.
  • Unprotected oral sex with someone who is HIV infected.
  • Sharing needles or syringes with someone who is HIV infected.
  • Infection during pregnancy, childbirth, or breast-feeding (mother-to-infant transmission).

HIV/AIDS info from the CDC…

HIV/AIDS: This term is used to refer to 3 categories of diagnoses collectively: (1) a diagnosis of HIV infection (not AIDS), (2) a diagnosis of HIV infection and a later diagnosis of AIDS, and (3) concurrent diagnoses of HIV infection and AIDS.

Growing Population Living with HIV

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collects, analyzes, and disseminates surveillance data on HIV infection; these data are one of the nation’s primary sources of information on HIV in the United States. The annual surveillance report, published by the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention (DHAP), summarizes information about diagnosed HIV infection in the United States and dependent areas. HIV surveillance data are used by CDC’s public health partners in other federal agencies, health departments, nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, and the general public to help focus prevention efforts, plan services, allocate resources, develop policy, and monitor trends in HIV infection. Estimated numbers and rates of diagnoses of HIV infection during 2010–2014 are included from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 6 U.S. dependent areas (American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the Republic of Palau, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). During 2010–2014, the annual estimated number and rate of diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States remained stable. Estimated numbers and rates of diagnoses of HIV infection increased in some subgroups and decreased in others. Variations in trends among groups are expected and may be due to differences in testing behaviors, targeted HIV testing initiatives, or changes in the numbers of new HIV infections in some subgroups. CLICK HERE FOR FULL REPORT

Implications of the New Estimate

The growing number of people living with HIV in the United States points to an increased need for HIV testing, treatment, and prevention services to slow the U.S. epidemic. With more HIV-infected individuals, and with those persons living longer, there is a growing population of HIV-infected men and women who must be reached with testing, medical care, and prevention services. As the number of persons living with HIV grows, so does the cost of providing medical services to this population and the burden on health care systems. In order to reduce these increased costs of care in the future, greater attention needs to be paid to preventing these infections in the first place. Growing HIV prevalence also means increased opportunities for transmission to HIV-negative individuals. Efforts to reduce the number of new infections must therefore be designed to meet the needs of both infected and uninfected populations.