Did you know?
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS
HIV/AIDS affects everyone regardless of age, gender, race, cultural background or religion
There are more than 34 million people living with HIV/AIDS. More than half of these are women and children
Sex between men and women is the most common way HIV is passed on (transmitted)
There are more than 24,000 people living with HIV/AIDS.
HIV is mainly transmitted through sex between men, but transmission through sex between men and women is increasing.
There are effective treatments for HIV and people can live long and healthy lives.
Using condoms during vaginal and anal sex, and not sharing needles or other injecting equipment remain the most effective ways to protect yourself from HIV.
What’s the difference between HIV and AIDS?
HIV/AIDS is often written as one word with one meaning. However, HIV and AIDS are different things.
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. A person becomes infected with HIV (HIV positive) when the virus enters their blood stream.
HIV attacks the immune system, which is the body’s defence against disease. If a person’s immune system is severely damaged by the virus, they will develop AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). This means they are likely to get infections and illnesses that their body would normally fight off.
Being diagnosed with HIV does not mean a person has AIDS or that they are going to die. Treatments slow down damage to the immune system so that people with HIV can remain well, and live healthy and fulfilling lives.
How is HIV transmitted?
HIV is found in body fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal fluids and breast milk. Infection only occurs when body fluids from an infected person enter the blood stream of another person.
HIV can be transmitted by:
Unsafe sex (sex without a condom)
Sharing needles, syringes and other equipment for injecting drugs
Unsterile body piercing or tattooing
Mother-to-child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding
Blood transfusion and/or blood products in some other countries. In Australia, blood transfusions and blood products are safe.