Spectrum of conditions caused by HIV infection / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Infection with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus),[9][10][11] a retrovirus,[12] can be managed with treatment but without treatment can lead to a spectrum of conditions including AIDS (Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome).[5]

Quick facts: HIV/AIDS, Other names, Specialty, Symptoms, C...
Other namesHIV disease, HIV infection[1][2]
A red ribbon in the shape of a bow
The red ribbon is a symbol for solidarity with HIV-positive people and those living with AIDS.[3]
SpecialtyInfectious disease, immunology
SymptomsEarly: Flu-like illness[4]
Later: Large lymph nodes, fever, weight loss[4]
ComplicationsOpportunistic infections, tumors[4]
CausesHuman immunodeficiency virus (HIV)[4]
Risk factorsUnprotected anal or vaginal sex, having another sexually transmitted infection, needle sharing, medical procedures involving unsterile cutting or piercing, and experiencing needlestick injury[4]
Diagnostic methodBlood tests[4]
PreventionSafe sex, needle exchange, male circumcision, pre-exposure prophylaxis, post-exposure prophylaxis[4]
TreatmentAntiretroviral therapy[4]
PrognosisNear normal life expectancy with treatment[5][6]
11 years life expectancy without treatment[7]
Frequency64.8 million – 113 million total cases[8]
1.3 million new cases (2022)[8]
39 million living with HIV (2022)[8]
Deaths40.4 million total deaths[8]
630,000 (2022)[8]

Effective treatment for HIV-positive people (people living with HIV) involves a life-long regimen of medicine to suppress the virus, making the viral load undetectable. There is not yet a vaccine nor a cure. An HIV-positive person on treatment can expect to live a normal life, and die with the virus, not of it. [5][6]

An HIV-positive person who has an undetectable viral load as a result of long-term treatment has effectively no risk of transmitting HIV sexually.[13][14]

Without treatment the infection can interfere with the immune system, and eventually progress to AIDS, sometimes taking many years. Following initial infection an individual may not notice any symptoms, or may experience a brief period of influenza-like illness.[4] During this period the person may not know that they are HIV-positive, yet be able to pass on the virus. Typically, this period is followed by a prolonged incubation period with no symptoms.[5] Eventually the HIV infection increases the risk of developing other infections such as tuberculosis, as well as other opportunistic infections, and tumors which are rare in people who have normal immune function.[4] The late stage is often also associated with unintended weight loss.[5] Without treatment a person living with HIV can expect to live for 11 years.[7] Early testing can show if treatment is needed to stop this progression and to prevent infecting others.

HIV is spread primarily by unprotected sex (including anal and vaginal sex), contaminated hypodermic needles or blood transfusions, and from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding.[15] Some bodily fluids, such as saliva, sweat, and tears, do not transmit the virus.[16] Oral sex has little risk of transmitting the virus.[17]

Ways to avoid catching HIV and preventing the spread include safe sex, treatment to prevent infection ("PrEP"), treatment to stop infection in someone who has been recently exposed ("PEP"),[4] treating those who are infected, and needle exchange programs. Disease in a baby can often be prevented by giving both the mother and child antiretroviral medication.[4]

Recognized worldwide in the early 1980s,[18] HIV/AIDS has had a large impact on society, both as an illness and as a source of discrimination.[19] The disease also has large economic impacts.[19] There are many misconceptions about HIV/AIDS, such as the belief that it can be transmitted by casual non-sexual contact.[20] The disease has become subject to many controversies involving religion, including the Catholic Church's position not to support condom use as prevention.[21] It has attracted international medical and political attention as well as large-scale funding since it was identified in the 1980s.[22]

HIV made the jump from other primates to humans in west-central Africa in the early-to-mid 20th century.[23] AIDS was first recognized by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 1981 and its cause—HIV infection—was identified in the early part of the decade.[18] Between the first time AIDS was readily identified through 2021, the disease is estimated to have caused at least 40 million deaths worldwide.[24] In 2021, there were 650,000 deaths and about 38 million people worldwide living with HIV.[8] An estimated 20.6 million of these people live in eastern and southern Africa.[25] HIV/AIDS is considered a pandemic—a disease outbreak which is present over a large area and is actively spreading.[26]

The United States' National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Gates Foundation have pledged $200 million focused on developing a global cure for AIDS.[27] While there is no cure or vaccine, antiretroviral treatment can slow the course of the disease and may lead to a near-normal life expectancy.[5][6] Treatment is recommended as soon as the diagnosis is made.[28] Without treatment, the average survival time after infection is 11 years.[7]