HIV/AIDS fact sheet

AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is a contagious illness characterised by the progressive deterioration of the immune system. AIDS is triggered by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). 
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HIV and AIDS: Definition

Once it has entered the body, HIV attacks human cells and primarily targets those that have the CD4 receptor on their surface, in particular T lymphocytes. The destruction of these cells progressively impairs the patient’s immune system. This makes the body vulnerable to attack by numerous micro-organisms. In effect, the body of a person contaminated with HIV loses its ability to defend itself and gets progressively weaker, becoming more vulnerable to attack by external and harmful agents.
 
In France, around 6,000 people per year discover that they are HIV-positive. Around 150,000 people in the country are affected by HIV, and it is estimated that there are an additional 50,000 people unknowingly living with the virus. Since the start of the epidemic, the number of deaths caused by AIDS in France has passed 46,000. The Parisian region, Guyana and Côte-d’Azur are the French regions with the highest proportions of HIV sufferers.

AIDS and HIV

In general, the term AIDS is used to refer to the serious symptomatic phase of HIV infection, which typically involves infections or tumours. How HIV and AIDS progress depends on the patient’s circumstances (age, drug dependency, viral infection such as hepatitis etc.) and their treatment. In France, 50% of people diagnosed as being HIV-positive find out at a late stage.
 
HIV is found in the blood, genital secretions and breast milk of infected patients. Contamination is possible if a person comes into contact with bodily fluids contaminated with HIV. This is why HIV is considered to be a sexually transmitted disease (STD). More than half of contaminations happen through heterosexual sex, around a third through homosexual sex and a very low percentage through the use of intravenous drugs.
 

I have AIDS

Being HIV-positive and having AIDS are two different things. Even people who understand their illness well still find it difficult to live with. They have to manage their treatment, cope with other people’s perceptions, and come to terms with the impact that having HIV or AIDs is going to have on their everyday life...
 
To help you to understand more about the illness, it is important to get the facts. This helps you to comprehend not only the medical aspects of HIV and AIDS, but also the personal aspects. Seeking advice from people also affected by the illness can help too. They can answer your questions by sharing their experiences.

http://www.who.int/features/qa/71/en/

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