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HIV Basics

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About HIV/AIDSHIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is the virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS. Unlike some other viruses, the human body cannot get rid of HIV. That means that once you have HIV, you have it for life.

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StatisticsHow many people in the United States become infected with HIV each year? Are certain populations more affected than others? This section provides an overview of the most-requested statistics about HIV and AIDS.

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image of a couple kissing In the United States, HIV is spread mainly by having sex with or sharing drug injection equipment with someone who is infected with HIV. Learn which kinds of sexual activity are riskiest and why HIV cannot be spread by casual contact such as hugging or shaking hands.

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TestingOne in seven people with HIV are unaware of their infection. That’s why CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested at least once and that high-risk groups get tested more often.

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PreventionHIV is preventable. Find out more about how testing, condoms, safer sex, and biomedical options can lower the risk for you and your partners.

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image of pillsPrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. That means taking specific HIV medications every day to prevent getting HIV. PrEP is not for everyone, but if you are at high risk, you may want to talk to your doctor about this option.

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image of doctor holding pillsPEP stands for post-exposure prophylaxis. It involves taking antiretroviral medicines within 3 days of a possible exposure to HIV to try to reduce the chance of becoming HIV-positive. PEP is for health care workers who have been exposed to HIV-infected fluids on the job or for anyone who may have been exposed through unprotected sex, needle-sharing injection drug use, or sexual assault.

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photo of a health professional consulting with a patientWhat are opportunistic infections? Planning a trip abroad? Looking for information on HIV treatment? This section can help.

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