There is no cure for HIV infection. Before we had any treatment for the virus, people with AIDS lived only for a couple of years. Fortunately, medications have substantially improved the outlook and survival rates. Prevention efforts have reduced HIV infection in young children and have the potential to limit new infections in other populations.
- Medications have extended the average life expectancy, and many people with HIV can expect to live for decades with proper treatment. An increasing number have a normal life expectancy if they adhere carefully to medication regimens.
- Medications help the immune system recover and fight infections and prevent cancers from occurring. Eventually, the virus may become resistant to the available drugs, and the manifestations of AIDS may develop.
- Drugs used to treat HIV and AIDS do not eliminate the infection. It is important for the person to remember that he or she is still contagious even when receiving effective treatment.
- Intensive research efforts are being focused on developing new and better treatments. Although currently there is no promising vaccine, work continues on this front.
This transmission electron micrographic image shows mature forms of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in a tissue sample. (SOURCE: CDC)
For More Information
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a good source for more information. Their online resource (http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/) includes a fact sheet and information on symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.
Padian, N.S., S.I. McCoy, S.S. Karim, et al. "HIV prevention transformed: the new prevention research agenda." Lancet 378.9787 July 16, 2011: 269-278.
Piot, P., M. Kazatchkine, M. Dybul, and J. Lob-Levyt. "AIDS: Lessons Learned and Myths
Dispelled." Lancet 374.9685 July 18, 2009: 260-263.
Thompson, M.A., J.A. Aberg, P. Cahn, et al. "International AIDS Society-USA.
Antiretroviral treatment of adult HIV infection: 2010 recommendations of the
International AIDS Society-USA panel." JAMA. 304.3 July 21, 2010: 321-333.
United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "HIV/AIDS." June 14, 2010. <http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/>.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/5/2015
Must Read Articles Related to HIV/AIDS
Dementia Due to HIV Infection
Decline in mental processes is a common complication of HIV infection (and many other conditions).
Although the specific symptoms vary from person to pers...learn more >>
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). HIV destroys the body's immune system and leads to AIDS....learn more >>
Rapid Oral HIV Test
Getting tested for HIV is now easier. On March 26, 2004, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new HIV test, one that can be done with...learn more >>
Patient Comments & Reviews
The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about HIV/AIDS: