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What is AIDS?

AIDS - Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome - is the late stage of infection caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), which progressively damages the body's ability to protect itself from disease organisms.

A person who is infected with HIV can look and feel healthy for up to ten years or more before signs of AIDS appear. But HIV steadily weakens the body's defense (immune) system until it can no longer fight off infections such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, tumours and other illnesses. Most people die within three years of the appearance of the first signs of AIDS.

AIDS is mainly a sexually transmitted disease. Most HIV infections have been transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse with someone who is already infected. HIV can also be transmitted through infected blood or blood products (such as blood transfusions), by sharing contaminated needles, and from an infected woman to her baby before birth, during delivery or through breastfeeding. HIV is not transmitted through normal, day-to-day contact.

Source: UNAIDS


related links
HIV/AIDS, food security and rural livelihoods (pdf)
HIV/AIDS, food security and rural development (pdf)
UNAIDS

  contact: hivaids@fao.org   © FAO, 2006