What are HIV and AIDS?
- HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus.
- AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.
HIV and AIDS are related but are not the same thing. A person with HIV may or may not also have AIDS. HIV is the virus that causes the disease known as AIDS. AIDS is a condition in which a weakened immune system has lost its natural ability to fight infections. In developing countries, such as the ones where Compassion works, usually non-lethal diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and hepatitis pose a much bigger threat to those with weakened immune systems.
Where did AIDS come from?
The first case of AIDS was identified in 1983, although the disease most likely existed long before then. Many believe the disease was first contracted by humans who ate meat from infected monkeys in sub-Saharan Africa.
Can HIV or AIDS be cured?
So far, no cure has been found for either HIV or AIDS. There are a number of antiretroviral (ART) drugs that help slow the effects of HIV. These drugs improve a person's ability to resist infections by stopping HIV from reproducing inside the body.
Why is HIV/AIDS so devastating to the poor?
Several factors multiply the devastation caused by HIV/AIDS in developing countries:
- Lack of prevention education
- Prevalence of environmental diseases
- High cost of treatment
- Other factors of poverty (poor health facilities, communication and transportation difficulties and unstable governments)
Sources: The Skeptics Guide to the Global AIDS Crisis, UNAIDS web site.