HIV and AIDSCauses
In the UK, most cases of HIV are caused by having sex with a person who has HIV without using a condom.
HIV is a virus that damages your immune system. If not treated, it can cause AIDS, where you become too weak to fight off life-threatening infections.
HIV often starts with a flu-like illness. After that, you might have no symptoms for many years, but the damage to your immune system continues.
HIV is spread through body fluids like semen, vaginal fluids, blood and breast milk. In the UK, it's mainly caught by having sex without a condom.
There's no cure for HIV, but medicines called antiretrovirals can control the virus and prevent further damage.
You can reduce your risk of HIV by using a condom for sex and not sharing needles or syringes.
Page last reviewed: 03/04/2018
Next review due: 03/04/2021