The Facts

Knowing the facts about HIV & AIDS does not only empower you to make better informed decisions and protect yourself but also helps create the necessary awareness needed to end the HIV related stigma faced by so many in the community. Plus it might save you some embarrassment should the topic come up in conversation :) 

HIV & AIDS

HIV:    Human Immunodeficiency Virus

AIDS: Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome

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What's the difference?

  • HIV is a virus found in human blood, semen, anal mucus, vaginal mucus and breast milk.
  • HIV attacks the body’s immune system, in particular white blood cells called CD4 cells.
  • People can carry HIV for long periods before they show any symptoms.
  • Medications known as anti-retroviral treatments prevent HIV from growing.
  • A person living with HIV in 2016 on effective anti-retroviral treatment is highly unlikely to transmit HIV. This is known as treatment as prevention.
  • AIDS is the name given to a specific group of illnesses that occur in people who have HIV who are not on anti-retroviral treatment. Some illness include pneumonias, cancers and dementia.

In 2016 it is rare to see AIDS cases in Australia.

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HOw is HIV spread?

  • HIV transmission is nearly always the result of condomless sexual intercourse OR from sharing injecting equipment with a person living with HIV – especially if they do not know they have HIV or are not on anti-retroviral treatment.
  • HIV is found in the bodily fluids of HIV positive people, BUT only blood, semen, anal mucus and vaginal mucus have enough of the virus in them to pose a risk of transmitting the virus.
  • From mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breast feeding when the mother has HIV but she is not treated with anti-retroviral treatment.
  • Blood transfusion with contaminated blood.

All of these ways of transmitting HIV can be prevented.

  • HIV cannot be spread through the air or through household, domestic or workplace contact with a HIV positive person.

HIV & AIDS Terminologies

The UNAIDS Terminology guidelines advocate for non-discriminatory language to avoid stigmatising people who are living with HIV. Click the link below if you would like to learn more.


Thank you to Living Positive Victoria for compiling and supplying the above information