HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

HIV infects the immune system which protects us from illnesses.

The virus attaches itself to immune system cells called CD4 lymphocyte cells, which protect the body against various bacteria, viruses, and other germs. Once attached, if left untreated, HIV enters the CD4 cells and makes thousands of copies of itself.

These copies then leave the CD4 cells, killing them in the process. If this continues, so much damage is caused that it is impossible for a body to fight off day-to-day infections and your immune system stops working.

This process may take up to 10 years, during which time you might feel and appear well.

Effective HIV treatment stops this process, allowing most individuals to live healthy and full lifespans.