HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) attacks the immune system, gradually weakening it until it can no longer defend the body against certain illnesses, infections, and diseases. The virus locates, destroys, and takes over our white blood cells (CD4 cells) and begins to replicate. Worsening of the HIV infection happens in 3 stages: acute (2-6 weeks), chronic (10 years), and AIDS.
AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) is the most advanced stage of HIV. It’s also called “advanced HIV infection” or “late-stage HIV”. HIV has progressed to AIDS when (1) the immune system is so weak it becomes vulnerable to opportunistic infections and specific cancers and (2) when the CD4 count falls below 200 cells/mm3 (200 cells/cubic mm of blood).
There is no vaccine or cure for HIV/AIDS, but treatment allows people to manage their illness, live full, healthy lives, and reduce/eliminate the risk of transmitting HIV to others.
Undetectable = Untransmittable: When treatment is taken as prescribed and the viral load (amount of HIV in the blood) is reduced to an undetectable level, HIV cannot be transmitted to others.