HIV - The facts
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system (our natural defence against infection and disease). In late-stage HIV infection, also known as AIDS, the weakened immune system means the body is more vulnerable to life-threatening conditions such as pneumonia and cancer.
It's estimated that nearly a quarter of people who have HIV don't know they have it.
Of the 6,151 new cases of HIV being diagnosed in 2014, around 40% were infected through heterosexual sex, and 55% through sex between men. The remainder of these diagnoses got their infection in other ways, such as sharing needles to inject drugs, and mother-to-baby transmission in pregnant women.
The virus is passed on through exchanging bodily fluids (such as semen, blood, or vaginal secretions) in the following ways:
- unprotected sex (sex without a condom): this is the most common form of transmission, and includes vaginal, anal and oral sex
- sharing needles to inject drugs
- birth or breastfeeding: a mother can pass the virus to her baby (this can be prevented with medication)
HIV can affect anyone, regardless of gender or sexual preference. It is important that you protect yourself against viruses or STIs like HIV by using contraception when having sex and test yourself regularly if you change sexual partners.
Did You Know?
You can now chat to us online at our HIV live web chat service.
This service is for anyone in Hampshire who:
- has been diagnosed with HIV (HIV positive)
- has been affected by anyone in their life who is HIV positive
- needs advice and support about HIV