Plain and Simple – The Facts about HIV and AIDS

What is HIV?

HIV is a virus that destroys the immune system of the body. The immune system is the “army” of the human body and it fights off germs and keeps you healthy. When HIV destroys the immune system, it means the body cannot fight off germs anymore. Normally, the immune system would kill off diseases that attack the body but it has no way to fight off HIV.

The letters HIV means Human Immunodeficiency Virus* - in simple language, it is a virus that weakens the immune system of the human body.

What is AIDS?

When HIV wipes out the immune system, then many different germs attack the body since it cannot defend itself. At this stage, when the body cannot fight off any disease, a person has AIDS. Some of the diseases that attack the body and cause AIDS are listed below. After a period of time, these diseases will cause death. After a person develops AIDS, the HIV virus continues to live in his or her body. They can still pass it to other people.


The letter AIDS means Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome – in simple words, it is a set of diseases that a person get when the immune system is weak.

HIV and AIDS are not the same.

HIV is a virus; AIDS is a syndrome or a combination of diseases.

HIV is passed from one person to another. AIDS does not pass from one person to another.

Common diseases and sickness that attack the body when a person has AIDS are:

  • Tuberculosis

  • Pneumonia

  • Cancers – different types

  • Eye problems

  • Problems balancing the body, especially when walking

  • Weight Loss

  • Memory Loss 

Is HIV a death sentence?

Having HIV does not mean that a person is going to die immediately. There is no cure for HIV or AIDS, but there are treatments that will delay the HIV virus from destroying the immune system very quickly. If a person takes these treatments in time then he or she can live a good life for many years.

If the person who has the virus does not get treatment in time, then the virus will destroy the immune system very quickly; then the person will reach the AIDS stage earlier, and he or she will die faster.

To delay HIV turning to AIDS, you have to find out early and get treatment.


Get tested today:

  • If you had sex (oral, anal, or vaginal) – even if you used a condom
    If you shared drug needles

  • If you received untested blood in a blood transfusion

  • If you are pregnant and unsure about your HIV status, get tested to ensure that your baby and you will be safe.

If a person is tested early and is positive, he or she still has a chance of living a good life by taking treatment.

How You Can Get the HIV Virus?

The HIV virus lives in:

  • humanblood

  • semen (what we normally call sperm)

  • vaginal fluid

  • breast milk of infected persons.

Therefore, any time there is entry of any of these fluids into your body, you can get the virus.


Sex is the most common way by which the virus is spread. This is because the fluids given off during sex, such as semen (sperm), pre-cum and vaginal fluids have human blood in which the virus lives.

Once these fluids pass from an infected person to another person, it is highly likely that the virus will also pass on.

The virus can also pass on when drug users share needles used to inject cocaine, heroin and similar drugs. Small amounts of blood can get trapped in the needle and may pass to another person who uses it.

The HIV virus is not passed on by blood transfusions done by certified blood banks and hospitals. The blood used by these institutions is well tested and re-tested before use to ensure safety.

If a person has HIV, he or she may not show any symptoms and may look normal and healthy. There is no way of looking at a person and knowing if they have HIV. The only way to know is to do a test. Many people have HIV for 10 years or more and show no signs. Some do not even know they have HIV, and can pass it to others without knowing.

How You Can Not Get the HIV Virus

  • You can not get the virus by shaking hands, hugging, touching, or sitting next to an infected person.

  • You can not get the virus by sharing toilet seats, swimming pools, bike seats, playgrounds, sports equipment etc.

  • You can not get the virus by sharing bathroom, soaps, toothbrush, towels, scrub sponge, etc.

  • You can not get the virus from water.

  • You can not get the virus by using public transportation

  • You can not get the virus by sharing the same air space in an office or home or anywhere there is an infected person.

  • You can not get the virus through mosquito bites – mosquitoes can however spread other diseases.

  • You can not get the virus from furniture, pots, plates, spoons, knives, glasses and other utensils for food and drink including at restaurants.

  • You can not get the virus by giving blood at a hospital or transfusion centre


  • You can not get the virus from sneezing, coughing, or sweat.

  • You can not get HIV from saliva (spit).

  • You can not get the virus from a dead person – when the body dies, the HIV virus dies with it.

  • You can not get the virus by casual kissing such as between parents and children. Kissing on cheeks or hands will not cause you to get HIV. It is only possible to get the virus by “deep kissing” if both partners have gum disease (bleeding gums). Bleeding gums can cause blood from one person’s mouth to pass into the blood stream of the other person if they too have gum disease – only one known case of this has been found. Remember it requires a blood-to-blood contact before the virus can pass.

Who can get HIV?

Anyone can get HIV. The virus infects all races, males and females, children, Hindus and non-Hindus, young people, old people, married people, single people, gay people, straight people, healthy people, sick people. In short, anyone who has been exposed to the bodily fluids in which the virus lives can get HIV. YOU CAN ALSO GET IT. PROTECT YOURSELF.