HIV is a virus, sometimes called a retrovirus. It can be caught from and shared with other people.
For most viruses, our bodies respond by destroying the virus. Most viruses are destroyed by the body’s defender, the immune system. Unfortunately, HIV attacks and destroys the immune system. This leads the patients with HIV to have a suppressed immune system. Suppressed means the immune system does not work as well as it should.
The HIV virus is a fatal, person-to-person, infection with no known cure whose final terminal stage is Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), sometimes referred to as “the wasting disease.1,2” HIV and AIDS are the same disease, with AIDS being the final stage of the same viral infection right before death.
In the past few years, new medications have been developed, which can extend the lifespan of an infected person by decades. So HIV has changed from an acute terminal illness to a chronic, lingering condition requiring medication, monitoring, good nutrition, and care. Be aware, HIV/AIDS remains a fatal disease. New medications merely push back the deadly end.