HIV and AIDs

HIV and AIDs

Copyright avert.orgHIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. The virus attacks the immune system, the body’s defense against infection and disease. This means that someone with HIV has a higher risk of getting a serious infection or disease, such as cancer.

AIDS stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome and refers to the late stages of HIV. The term AIDS is no longer widely used and specialists prefer to call it advanced or late-stage HIV infection.

HIV is spread through bodily fluids, such as semen or blood. It is most commonly passed on during unprotected sex, including oral and anal sex and can also be passed on through sharing sex toys, needles or other drug injecting equipment, by receiving infected blood or blood products as part of medical treatment and from mother to baby during pregnancy, during birth, or through breastfeeding.

HIV cannot be transmitted by:

  • Kissing, Holding Hands or Touching
  • Toilet seats/Swimming Pools
  • Insect or animal bites
  • Sharing eating utensils

There is no cure for HIV, but there are new drugs to keep HIV under control. Once a person becomes infected with HIV, they stay infected for the rest of their lives. There are HIV treatments which can prolong life.


The best way to prevent HIV is to use a condom and practice safe sex. It is important to never share needles or other injecting equipment.

Knowing your HIV status and that of your partner is important, therefore regular sexual health checks particularly between partners is essential.

For people with HIV, effective antiretroviral therapy significantly reduces the risk of passing HIV to sexual partners; therefore it is important to take antiretroviral medications as prescribed.

For further information:

Read Sexual Advice

Contact the Well Person Unit (for general screening services) Tel: (+350) 200 07842
or the Infection Prevention and Control Practitioners on Tel: (+350) 200 72266 Ext: 2315