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  • What Is AIDS?

    Mar. 01, 2017

    AIDS stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome. HIV causes AIDS. Someone has AIDS when their immune system is no longer able to keep them healthy. For someone with HIV, the process of the virus destroying T-cells and multiplying may go on for years. This is why many people infected with HIV do not get sick with AIDS until years later.

    How do you get HIV?

    HIV lives and reproduces in human blood and other body fluids. Someone can become infected with HIV if these infected fluids enter their body.

    These fluids can contain high levels of HIV:

    • blood
    • semen
    • pre-seminal fluid
    • breast milk
    • vaginal fluids
    • rectal (anal) mucous

    Other bodily fluids and waste products generally don’t have enough HIV in them to infect you, unless blood is present in them. This includes:

    • nasal fluid
    • saliva
    • sweat
    • tears
    • feces
    • urine
    • vomit

    HIV can be found in tears of infected people, but no cases of AIDS have ever been reported from tear contact. Ophthalmologists are careful about cleaning instruments and lenses that come in contact with tears.