Monday, May 16, 2011

Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation - About Pediatric AIDS

About Pediatric HIV and AIDS 

Answers to the most frequently asked questions about pediatric HIV and AIDS.

What is HIV?

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). HIV can be transmitted during sexual intercourse, pregnancy (i.e., from mother to fetus), childbirth, breastfeeding, and other forms of exposure to bodily fluids that carry the virus. When the virus enters the body, it injects itself into vital immune cells called CD4 cells. In the absence of treatment, HIV continues to replicate itself within the body, eventually leading to severe immunodeficiency, chronic illness, and death.


What is AIDS?

AIDS represents an advanced stage of HIV infection. In most cases, a person living with HIV eventually develops AIDS. AIDS is characterized by severely diminished immune system function, where the body is highly vulnerable to infections and cancers that are typically fought off by a healthy immune system. As defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a person has AIDS when HIV has drastically reduced his or her CD4 cell count, or when a person living with HIV is diagnosed with at least one opportunistic infection (i.e., an infection that does not normally occur in someone with a healthy immune system).

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