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AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.

  • Acquired means that the disease is not hereditary but develops after birth from contact with a disease causing agent (in this case, HIV).
  • Immunodeficiency means that the disease is characterized by a weakening of the immune system.
  • Syndrome refers to a group of symptoms that collectively indicate or characterize a disease. In the case of AIDS this can include the development of certain infections and/or cancers, as well as a decrease in the number of certain cells in a person's immune system.

AIDS is a progression of HIV disease. For the stages of HIV disease, see: offsite link


For information on how HIV damages the immune system, see: offsite link

If you do medical research and read grim facts, keep in mind that: 

  • Statistical information about HIV disease is most likely out of date thanks to ongoing medical advances, including what are known as salvage therapies (therapies to use when first line therapies don't work). 
  • By their nature, statistics only provide a general guide so you can prepare in case the "what ifs" occur. Statistics do not predict what will happen to any individual. .
  • Doing medical research can provoke anxiety and possibly even depression.

Expect to hear lots of advice and stories from friends. Keep in mind that information about what happened to other people is "anecdotal." It is not scientific. What happens to other people is frequently irrelevant to your own experience.

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