Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that infects and destroys the cells of the immune system. In its later form, HIV develops into acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS. It can take 10-15 years for a person with HIV to develop AIDS1.

HIV is transmitted in one of several ways:

  • Unprotected sexual intercourse
  • Contaminated blood transfusions
  • Sharing of contaminated needles
  • From mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding


HIV/AIDS is an extremely serious epidemic and is the world’s leading infectious killer. Thirty-four million people have HIV/AIDS worldwide and an estimated 2.7 million people were newly infected with the virus in 2010. Approximately 1.8 million people die each year from HIV/AIDS and about 30 million people have died to date. Because HIV/AIDS attacks the immune system, it makes people more susceptible to other diseases and infections, which is often the cause of death in people with HIV/AIDS2



Nearly 63 percent of all people with HIV worldwide live in sub-Saharan Africa—25 million people3.


The symptoms of HIV and AIDS vary, depending on the phase of infection. The majority of people infected by HIV develop a flu-like illness within a month or two after the virus enters the body. This illness, known as primary or acute HIV infection, may last for a few weeks. During the clinical latent infection phase, some people experience persistent swelling of lymph nodes, otherwise there are no specific signs and symptoms. This phase typically lasts eight to ten years. As the virus continues to multiply and destroy immune cells, people may develop mild infections or chronic symptoms such as fever, fatigue, diarrhea and weight loss. Without treatment, the disease typically progresses to AIDS in about 10 years. By the time AIDS develops, the immune system has been severely damaged, making the person susceptible to opportunistic infections — diseases that wouldn't trouble a person with a healthy immune system4.


There is currently no known cure for HIV/AIDS, but antiretroviral therapy (ART) has been effective in slowing down the development of HIV into AIDS. Since 2003, access to ART in low and middle-income countries has greatly increased. In 2010, 47% of the 14.2 million people eligible for ART treatment were covered2.

Read more at CarePack®


2WHO. 10 Facts on HIV/AIDS.

3Population Reference Bureau. World Population Highlights: HIV/AIDS

4Mayo Clinic. HIV/AIDS.

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