Some basic information on HIV...

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is a virus that attacks the part of the body that fights diseases and protects us from getting sick (immune system). With a weak immune system, a person with HIV can easily catch other germs. The person’s body can’t fight the germs and he or she can get very sick (this is called AIDS).

AIDS stands for acquired immune deficiency (weak, no protection from diseases) syndrome (different symptoms, signs and illnesses). It is the different illnesses that someone might get because their immune system is very weak from HIV.

HIV cannot be cured – once someone has HIV it stays in their body for life.


Who can get HIV?

  • You can get HIV if the blood, semen or vaginal fluid of someone with HIV gets into your body.
  • You can’t tell by looking at someone whether or not they have it, but they can still pass it on.
  • HIV can live in a person’s body for years before they get sick, but they can still pass it on even if they seem well.


You can get HIV if:

  • You have vaginal or anal sex without a condom with someone who has HIV;
  • You use the same needle (for injections in a health clinic or hospital, or for injecting drugs) that’s been used by someone who has HIV; or
  • You share the same needles, razors or other tools for tattooing, circumcision or skin piercing with someone who has HIV.
  • A mother with HIV can pass it on to her baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.
  • In the Pacific, most HIV infections happen through people having unsafe sex (sex without a condom).