The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that infects cells of the immune system, destroying or impairing their function. As the infection progresses, the immune system becomes weaker, and the person becomes more susceptible to infections. The most advanced stage of HIV infection is acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). It can take 10-15 years for an HIV-infected person to develop AIDS; antiretroviral drugs can slow down the process even further.
HIV is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse (anal or vaginal), transfusion of contaminated blood, sharing of contaminated needles, and between a mother and her infant during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.
WHO programmes and activities
HIV/AIDS in WHO regions
- Use of antiretrovirals for treatment and prevention of HIV infection
- Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)
- Consolidated guidelines on HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care for key populations
- Consolidated guidelines on the use of antiretroviral drugs for treating and preventing HIV infection
- WHO guidelines on HIV/AIDS