Home Emergencies: preparadness and response Injury prevention Child protection HIV and AIDS Malaria Hygiene Coughs, colds and more serious illnesses Diarrhoea Immunization Nutrition and growth Breastfeeding Child development and early learning Safe motherhood and newborn health Timing births

The Mother and Child Health and Education Trust



Follow MotherChild on Twitter  Connect with MotherChild on Facebook  Subscribe to HealthPhone on YouTube
Facts for Life


Supporting Information


HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). It is preventable and treatable, but incurable. People can become infected with HIV through (1) unprotected sexual contact with an HIV-infected person (sex without the use of a male or female condom); (2) transmission from an HIV-infected mother to her child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding; and (3) blood from HIV-contaminated syringes, needles or other sharp instruments and transfusion with HIV-contaminated blood. It is not transmitted by casual contact or other means.

Why it is important - All key messages - Resources

People infected with HIV usually live for years without any signs of the disease. They may look and feel healthy, but they can still pass on the virus to others. Timely initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART), a group of medicines used to treat HIV, allows a person to handle HIV as a chronic disease and lead a relatively healthy life.

AIDS is the late stage of HIV infection. People who have AIDS grow weaker because their bodies lose the ability to fight off illnesses. In adults not receiving antiretroviral treatment, AIDS develops 7–10 years after HIV infection, on average. In young children it usually develops much faster. There is no cure for AIDS, but new medicines can help people with AIDS live longer.

In most cases, HIV is passed from one person to another through unprotected sexual intercourse, during which the semen, vaginal fluid or blood of an infected person passes into the body of another person.

HIV can also pass from one person to another through the use of non-sterile, HIV-contaminated needles and syringes (most often among drug users sharing needles and syringes), razor blades, knives or other instruments for injecting, cutting or piercing the body.

People may also become infected by HIV through transfusions of infected blood. All blood for transfusions should be screened for HIV.

HIV is passed to infants and young children primarily from the mother during pregnancy or childbirth or through breastfeeding.

It is not possible to get HIV from working, socializing or living side by side with HIV-positive people. Touching those who are infected with HIV, hugging, shaking hands, coughing and sneezing will not spread the disease. HIV cannot be transmitted through toilet seats, telephones, plates, cups, eating utensils, towels, bed linen, swimming pools or public baths. HIV is not spread by mosquitoes or other insects.

Foreword  •  Purpose  •  Structure  •  Essential Messages  •  Guide for Using Facts for Life   •  Glossary  •  Contact

The Mother and Child Health and Education Trust
a U.S. 501(c)(3) non profit organization
our portals and sites
HealthPhone™ Mobile Apps
Guide to Child Care
Community Video
Kyunki-Jeena Issi Ka Naam Hai
Rehydration Project
Successful Breastfeeding
Disaster Relief
Community Radio
AIDS action
Polio Free
Health Education to Villages
Breast Crawl
Education for Girls
A Simple Solution
Diarrhoea: 7 Point Plan
HIV and Breastfeeding
Rights of the Child
Mother and Child Nutrition
Mother and Child Health
Facts for Life
Education for Boys
Child Protector
Ebola Resources