epidemic of HIV and AIDS has attracted much attention both within
and outside the medical and scientific communities.
Much of this attention comes from the many social issues related to
this disease such as sexuality, drug use, and poverty. Although the
scientific evidence is overwhelming and compelling that HIV is the
cause of AIDS, the disease process is still not completely understood.
This incomplete understanding has led some persons to make statements
that AIDS is not caused by an infectious agent or is caused by a virus
that is not HIV. This is not only misleading, but may have dangerous
consequences. Before the discovery of HIV, evidence from epidemiologic
studies involving tracing of patients’ sex partners and cases
occurring in persons receiving transfusions of blood or blood clotting
products had clearly indicated that the underlying cause of the condition
was an infectious agent. Infection with HIV has been the sole common
factor shared by AIDS cases throughout the world among men who have
sex with men, transfusion recipients, persons with hemophilia, sex
partners of infected persons, children born to infected women, and
occupationally exposed health care workers.
The conclusion after more than 20 years of scientific research is
that people, if exposed to HIV through sexual contact or injecting
drug use for example, may become infected with HIV. If they become
infected, most will eventually develop AIDS.
For more information,
visit the NIH National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases
Fact sheet "The
Evidence That HIV Causes AIDS".