HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus attacks the body's CD4 cells, otherwise known as "T" cells, which help ward off disease and infection. The virus destroys the cells, leaving the body unable to fight off infections and making it susceptible to opportunistic infections or cancers that can take advantage of the body's weakened immune system. Spread through bodily fluids, HIV can lead to full-blown AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Virus). Unlike many other viruses, once a person acquires HIV they cannot cure it; even with treatment, the virus will always remain in the body. With proper medical care and supervision, however, HIV can be controlled. Thanks to improved treatments, HIV itself is no longer a life-threatening disease.
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There are three stages of HIV infection. In the Acute HIV Infection Stage, the person can develop severe flu-like symptoms, the body's attempts to fight the virus. During this stage, large amounts of the virus is produced in the body. During the Clinical Latency Stage, the virus lives in the body, reproducing at very low levels. AIDS is the next and final stage of HIV; at this stage, a severely damaged immune system leaves the body susceptible to opportunistic diseases.
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