HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus that causes the infection that leads to AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). Often you will see it written as HIV/AIDS, as the viral infection leads to the AIDS condition. AIDS is a life-threatening condition which progresses toward a failure of the immune system which allows other infections and cancers to thrive in the body. Without any treatment, the average survival time after being infected with HIV is 9 to 11 years. HIV is typically a sexually transmitted infection, but transmission through blood contact and childbirth is also possible. When a person is first infected, they may have a prolonged period where they experience no symptoms or minor flu-like symptoms.
Up to 72 hours after exposure to the AIDS virus a person can seek care and treatment to prevent the virus from setting up shop and taking over. Often used in cases such as accidental needle sticks and other exposures for medical professionals, the treatment is effective in most exposure situations. The sooner the treatment is administered after exposure the more effective it is. The treatment is easily attainable at hospitals and HIV clinics.
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