HIV/AIDS: The Basics

(Last updated 9/13/2016; last reviewed 9/9/2016) Key Points HIV is the virus that causes HIV infection. AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV infection. HIV is spread through contact with the blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, or breast milk of a person infected with HIV. In the United States, HIV is spread mainly by having anal or vaginal sex or sharing drug injection equipment with a person infected with HIV. The use of HIV medicines to treat HIV infection is called antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART involves taking a combination of HIV medicines (called an HIV regimen) every day. ART

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