The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that causes HIV infection. HIV causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), 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 with HIV. In the United States, HIV is spread mainly by having anal or vaginal sex or sharing injection drug equipment, such as syringes or needles, with a person who has HIV.
Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is the use of HIV medicines to treat HIV infection. People on ART take a combination of HIV medicines (called an HIV treatment regimen) every day.
ART is recommended for everyone who has HIV. ART cannot cure HIV infection, but HIV medicines help people with HIV live longer, healthier lives. HIV medicines can also reduce the risk of HIV transmission.