Basic Information Tab

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. This is the virus that causes AIDS. HIV is different from most other viruses because it attacks the immune system. The immune system gives our bodies the ability to fight infections. HIV finds and destroys a type of white blood cell (T cells or CD4 cells) that the immune system must have to fight disease.

AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection. It can take years for a person infected with HIV, even without treatment, to reach this stage. Having AIDS means that the virus has weakened the immune system to the point at which the body has a difficult time fighting infections. When someone has one or more of these infections and a low number of T cells, he or she has AIDS.

Whereas there are symptoms of HIV, the only way to know that you are living with the virus is to be tested. Everyone should know their HIV status to protect themselves and others. Go to HIV testing center to find a test site. (National HIV Testing Resources, CDC).

Basic Resources

Basic Information on HIV/AIDS (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
This resource provides an overview of the virus, the history of the epidemic, and basic prevention information as well as identified risk behaviors associated with the transmission of HIV. Each section links to more in-depth information from the CDC.

HIV/AIDS Science (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
This resource provides basic science-based answers and information about HIV and AIDS, how HIV causes AIDS, and information about testing and diagnosis of HIV/AIDS.

HIV and AIDS: Are You at Risk? (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Provides basic information about HIV and AIDS, the behaviors that place people at risk for HIV and preventive measures everyone can take to prevent HIV.

HIV Infection and AIDS: An Overview (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH)
This resource provides basic information about HIV and AIDS, how HIV is transmitted and ways to prevent transmission, and how HIV and AIDS are treated.

Medical Encyclopedia – AIDS (National Library of Medicine – MedlinePlus, NIH)
Provides a general, encyclopedia-type definition on and information about Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

Medical Encyclopedia – HIV (National Library of Medicine – MedlinePlus, NIH)
Provides a general, encyclopedia-type definition on and information about human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Medline Plus – AIDS (National Library of Medicine - Medline, NIH)
This resource provides a listing of resources about AIDS and HIV. Resources cover overviews of HIV/AIDS, diagnosis, treatment, prevention/screening, research information, and reference materials.

Testing HIV Positive - Do I Have AIDS? (PDF - 56.23 KB) (AIDSinfo)
Fact sheet with information on what it means to test positive for HIV, an explanation of AIDS, and information on the next steps individuals should take after a positive test result. En español (PDF - 63.5 KB)

The Evidence that HIV Causes AIDS (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH)
A fact sheet summarizing the evidence that HIV causes AIDS. It includes a question and answer section citing studies and research.

What is HIV? What is AIDS? (Office on Women's Health)
This resource provides a basic definition of HIV and AIDS, describes how HIV is spread, symptoms of HIV, and how AIDS is diagnosed. This resource is a service of the National Women’s Health Information Center.

History of HIV/AIDS

FDA HIV/AIDS Timeline (Food and Drug Administration)
A timeline of significant events in FDA's history of activities related to HIV/AIDS, from the start of the epidemic to present. Information is included on the approval of new therapies and prevention methods.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) AIDS History Site ~ In Their Own Words: NIH Researchers Recall the Early Years of AIDS (National Institutes of Health)
This Web site commemorates the 25-year struggle to confront the deadly HIV/AIDS pandemic. In Their Own Words documents how NIH researchers confronted the early days of HIV/AIDS from the first encounters with the virus the mobilization against the disease and the first steps of the search for treatments. The site includes a document archive and an image library.

National Prevention Information Network (NPIN) (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
NPIN's databases offer historical information on the development of resources in response to HIV/AIDS in the areas of Funding (dating back to 1988), Materials (to 1987), Conferences (to 2000), and Prevention News (to 2000).

Reports Related to HIV/AIDS Published in 1981-present in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (MMWR) is CDC's premiere journal. Public health reports, recommendations, and announcements on a variety of disease topics are published weekly. This resource assists those looking for HIV/AIDS-related MMWRs by organizing links to individual reports.

Last revised: 05/29/2008