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Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the body's immune system. This makes it hard for the body to fight infection and disease. HIV causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). AIDS is the last and most severe stage of the HIV infection.
HIV attacks and destroys a type of white blood cell called CD4+ cells, or helper cells. These cells are an important part of the immune system.
You have AIDS when one or both of the following are true:
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
If your partner has AIDS, you can help provide emotional, physical, and medical care that will improve his or her quality of life.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.
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Current as of: February 11, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Peter Shalit MD, PhD - Internal Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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