What is HIV?

HIV Ribbon

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV affects the body’s immune system, attacking the body’s defences against disease making it less able to fight infections and more vulnerable to illnesses.

If left untreated, HIV can cause AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) seriously harming the body’s immune system, resulting in serious illness and disease. AIDS can only develop in someone already infected with HIV, but not everyone who has HIV develops AIDS. In Ireland, because of good treatments now available for HIV, most don’t.

HIV treatment is more effective the earlier it starts, which is why it’s important for people who may be at risk to get tested.

Tests: what you need to know