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WHAT IS HIV?
Breaking it down H – Human – A virus that can only infect human beings. I – Immunodeficiency – HIV weakens your immune system by destroying important cells that fight disease and infection. V – Virus – The virus takes over reproducing itself by taking over a cell in the body of its host. Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a lot like other viruses, including those that cause the “flu” or the common cold. But there is an important difference – over time, your immune system can clear most viruses out of your body. We know that HIV can hide for long periods of time in the cells of your body and that it attacks a key part of your immune system – your T-cells or CD4 cells. Your body has to have these cells to fight infections and disease, but HIV invades them, uses them to make more copies of itself, and then destroys them. Over time, HIV can destroy so many of your CD4 cells that your body can’t fight infections and diseases anymore. When that happens, HIV infection can lead to AIDS.