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Pandemics & Epidemics: A Topic & Resource Guide

HIV/AIDS: The Basics

A blue mask hangs from a door knob with the message 'Unmask AIDS'. Colour lithograph by Lin Renninger and Kristina Von Rubens, 1988.

A blue mask hangs from a door knob with the message 'Unmask AIDS'. Colour lithograph by Lin Renninger and Kristina Von Rubens, 1988., Wellcome Museum Collection, https://wellcomecollection.org/works/b8346ymb, accessed April 5th, 2021, Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0), https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

"Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an infection that attacks the body’s immune system, specifically the white blood cells called CD4 cells. HIV destroys these CD4 cells, weakening a person’s immunity against infections such as tuberculosis and some cancers....WHO recommends that every person who may be at risk of HIV should access testing. People diagnosed with HIV should be offered and linked to antiretroviral treatment as soon as possible following diagnosis. If taken consistently, this treatment also prevents HIV transmission to others....If the person’s CD4 cell count falls below 200, their immunity is severely compromised, leaving them more susceptible to infections. Someone with a CD4 count below 200 is described as having AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome)....HIV can be diagnosed using simple and affordable rapid diagnostic tests, as well as self-tests. It is important that HIV testing services follow the 5Cs: consent, confidentiality, counselling, correct results and connection with treatment and other services.

----World Heath Organization, https://www.who.int/health-topics/hiv-aids/#tab=tab_1, (accessed April 5, 2021)

AIDS: History & Culture

AIDS: Science, Epidemiology, Policy, & Politics