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What is HIV?


HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that causes AIDS. This virus is passed from one person to another through blood-to-blood and unprotected sexual contact. In addition, infected pregnant women can pass HIV to their baby during pregnancy or delivery, as well as through breast-feeding. People with HIV have what is called HIV infection. Most of these people will develop AIDS as a result of their HIV infection.

These body fluids have been proven to spread HIV:

  • blood
  • semen
  • vaginal fluid
  • breast milk
  • other body fluids containing blood

These are additional body fluids that may transmit the virus that health care workers may come into contact with:

  • cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and the spinal cord
  • synovial fluid surrounding bone joints
  • amniotic fluid surrounding a fetus

For more information, please visit the CDC National Prevention Information Network website.

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