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JAMA Patient Page
August 6, 2008

HIV Infection: The Basics

JAMA. 2008;300(5):614. doi:10.1001/jama.300.5

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV for short) is the virus that causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). AIDS is a serious, life-threatening illness that has a variety of symptoms. HIV infection can be treated with medications to make patients feel better and to prolong life. However, there is no cure for HIV infection or AIDS. Approximately 33 million people are infected with HIV worldwide. The August 6, 2008, issue of JAMA is dedicated to HIV/AIDS. This Patient Page is adapted from one previously published in the August 16, 2006, JAMA HIV/AIDS theme issue.

You cannot get HIV infection from drinking from a water fountain, contact with a toilet seat, or touching an infected person. You can get HIV infection from