Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The illness interferes with the immune system, making people with AIDS much more likely to get infections, including opportunistic infections and tumors that do not affect people with working immune systems. This susceptibility gets worse as the disease continues.
HIV is transmitted in many ways, such as: sexual intercourse (including oral sex and anal sex); contaminated blood transfusions and hypodermic needles; and exchange between mother and baby during pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. It can be transmitted by any contact of a mucous membrane or the bloodstream with a bodily fluid that has the virus in it, such as the blood, semen, vaginal fluid, preseminal fluid, or breast milk from an infected person.
The virus and disease are often referred to together as HIV/AIDS. The disease is a major health problem in many parts of the world, and is considered a pandemic, a disease outbreak that is not only present over a large area but is actively spreading. In 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that there are 33.4 million people worldwide living with HIV/AIDS, with 2.7 million new HIV infections per year and 2.0 million annual deaths due to AIDS. In 2007, UNAIDS estimated: 33.2 million people worldwide were HIV positive; AIDS killed 2.1 million people in the course of that year, including 330,000 children, and 76% of those deaths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa. According to UNAIDS 2009 report, worldwide some 60 million people have been infected since the start of the pandemic, with some 25 million deaths, and 14 million orphaned children in southern Africa alone.
Genetic research indicates that HIV originated in west-central Africa during the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. AIDS was first recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 1981 and its cause, HIV, identified in the early 1980s.
Although treatments for HIV/AIDS can slow the course of the disease, there is no known cure or HIV vaccine. Antiretroviral treatment reduces both the deaths and new infections from HIV/AIDS, but these drugs are expensive and the medications are not available in all countries. Due to the difficulty in treating HIV infection, preventing infection is a key aim in controlling the AIDS pandemic, with health organizations promoting safe sex and needle-exchange programmes in attempts to slow the spread of the virus.AIDSMap
NAM is an award-winning, community-based organisation, which works from the UK. We deliver reliable and accurate HIV information across the world to HIV-positive people and to the professionals who treat, support and care for them. AIDSInfo
AIDSinfo is a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) project that offers the latest federally approved information on HIV/AIDS clinical research, treatment and prevention, and medical practice guidelines for people living with HIV/AIDS, their families and friends, health care providers, scientists, and researchers.Yahoo! Health
An article on HIV from Yahoo! Health News.InteliHealth
An article on HIV/AIDS from Aetna InteliHealth.Wikipedia
Wikipedia's article on AIDS, with a link to an article on HIV.