Doctor's Search

Understanding HIV AIDS

January 4, 2018

What is HIV

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) targets the immune system and weakens people’s defence systems against infections and some types of cancer. As the virus destroys and impairs the function of immune cells, infected individuals gradually become immunodeficient. Immune function is typically measured by CD4 cell count. Immunodeficiency results in increased susceptibility to a wide range of infections, cancers and other diseases that people with healthy immune systems can fight off.

What is AIDS

The most advanced stage of HIV infection is Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which can take from 2 to 15 years to develop depending on the individual. AIDS is defined by the development of certain cancers, infections, or other severe clinical manifestations.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Though people living with HIV tend to be most infectious in the first few months, many are unaware of their status until later stages.
  • The infection progressively weakens the immune system, an individual can develop, such as swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, fever, diarrhoea and cough.
  • Without treatment, an individual could also develop severe illnesses such as tuberculosis, cryptococcal meningitis, severe bacterial infections and cancers such as lymphomas and Kaposi’s sarcoma.



HIV can be transmitted via the exchange of a variety of body fluids from infected individuals, such as blood, breast milk, semen and vaginal secretions. Individuals cannot become infected through ordinary day-to-day contact such as kissing, hugging, shaking hands, or sharing personal objects, food or water.

Risk factors

Behaviours and conditions that put individuals at greater risk of contracting HIV include:

  • Having unprotected anal or vaginal sex;
  • Having another sexually transmitted infection such as Syphilis, Herpes, Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, and Bacterial vaginosis;
  • Sharing contaminated needles, syringes and other injecting equipment and drug solutions when injecting drugs;
  • Receiving unsafe injections, blood transfusions, tissue transplantation, medical procedures that involve unsterile cutting or piercing; and
  • Experiencing accidental needle stick injuries, including among health workers.



World AIDS Day 2017: New app to raise awareness about HIV launched

The game application, Battle in the Blood (BitB) was developed in collaboration with the UK government and the Philippine government. It includes eight short stories of people who have been living with HIV.

“You create your own avatar and the avatar goes inside the capsule and it goes inside your blood. The main objective of the game is to fight HIV and its co-infections,” he said. The gaming application includes eight short stories of people who have been living with HIV. Speaking about them he said, “These are courageous stories’’, said Emmanuel Baja, doctor at UP National Institutes of Health and principal developer and investigator of (BTIP).

WHO Slogan

Under the slogan “Everybody counts”, WHO will advocate for access to safe, effective, quality and affordable medicines, including medicines, diagnostics and other health commodities as well as health care services for all people in need, while also ensuring that they are protected against financial risks.

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