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HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection is a long-term (chronic) viral infection. HIV kills white blood cells that help to control the body's defense system (immune system) and fight infection. HIV spreads through semen, blood, breast milk, and fluid from the rectum and vagina. HIV is commonly spread through sexual contact and sharing needles or syringes because these behaviors involve exchanging bodily fluids.
Without treatment, HIV can turn into AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), which is an advanced stage of HIV infection. AIDS is a very serious illness and can be life-threatening.
The only way to completely prevent HIV from being spread through sexual contact is to not have any kind of sex (practice abstinence), including oral, vaginal, or anal sex.
Drug and alcohol use
Blood and bodily fluids
This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.
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