HIV is an abbreviation for "Human Immunodeficiency Virus". HIV damages the body's own defences, also called the immune system.

This generally means the body can no longer fight off invading pathogens such as bacteria, fungi, or viruses. In the most extreme cases certain life-threatening diseases such as severe pneumonia can develop. This stage of the illness is referred to as AIDS.

The latter too is an abbreviation meaning "Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome".

Today there are very effective drugs against HIV. While preventing the virus from multiplying in the blood, they cannot remove it completely from the body. Today, thanks to these drugs, most people infected with HIV can live with the virus for a long time without ever developing AIDS.

In some cases the treatment can have serious side effects however. At the moment HIV medications must also be taken for life.

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