Answers FAQ


Reviewed by Mary Nettleman, MD, MS

Take the HIV-AIDS Quiz First! Before reading this FAQ, challenge yourself and
Test your Knowledge!

Q:HIV/AIDS is considered a cancerous disease. True or False?

A:False. HIV/AIDS is considered an infectious disease. With AIDS, the body becomes vulnerable to life-threatening conditions, diseases, infections, and cancers.

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Q:What is HIV an abbreviation for?

A:HIV is an abbreviation for human immunodeficiency virus.

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Q:Nearly 33 million in the U.S. are living with HIV. True or False?

A:Approximately 1.1 million Americans are among the 33 million people worldwide now living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

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Q:No one knows how long it takes for HIV to cause AIDS. True or False?

A:True. It's true. No one really knows how long it takes HIV to cause AIDS. Times vary greatly from person to person, and it depends on many factors, including a person's health status and their health-related behaviors.

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Q:HIV is believed to have originated from insects in Brazil. True or False?

A:False. Researchers believe that HIV was introduced into the human population when hunters became exposed to infected blood of chimpanzees in Africa.

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Q:HIV can be transmitted through urine. True or False?

A:False. There is little evidence to show that HIV can be transmitted through urine. The most common ways in which HIV is spreading throughout the world include sexual contact, sharing needles, and by transmission from infected mothers to their newborns during pregnancy, labor (the delivery process), or breastfeeding.

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Q:About one-fourth of all people with HIV/AIDS are?

A:Over the age of 50. Almost one-fourth of all people with HIV/AIDS in this country are age 50 and older. Doctors are finding HIV more often than ever before in older people and because improved treatments are helping people with the disease live longer.

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Q:HIV infection destroys a type of white blood cell in the body.

A:True. HIV destroys the body's CD4 cells (a type of white blood cell) that fight infection. The count for CD4 cells helps determine the strength of an immune system, indicates the stage of HIV disease, guides treatment, and predicts how HIV may progress. High CD4 counts can reduce complications of HIV disease and extend life.

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Q:A viral load test determines if HIV has been transmitted to another person. True or False?

A:False. A viral load test measures how much human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is in the blood.

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Q:AIDS is the third stage of HIV. True or False?

A:True. HIV progresses in three stages: Stage 1: There is little evidence of harm. Stage 2: CD4 cells start to fall. Stage 3: HIV has advanced and is now called AIDS

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Q:People can prevent HIV and AIDS by getting a vaccine. True or False?

A:False. There is no HIV vaccine. HIV is a very small virus that has the ability to create minor variations that evade the body's immunologic defenses, which makes it difficult to make an effective vaccine. The mutations also allow HIV to become resistant to medications.

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Q:What are people with HIV and AIDS are largely prone to?

A:Opportunistic infections. Many people with HIV and AIDS are prone to infections that take advantage of weak immune systems. These are called "opportunistic infections." Examples of opportunistic infections include pelvic inflammatory disease, bacterial vaginosis, candidiasis (thrush), cytomegalovirus (CMV), herpes simplex viruses, malaria, and tuberculosis (TB).

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Q:Darkening of the skin is a characteristic, AIDS-related physical change. True or False?

A:False. Darkening of the skin (hyperpigmentation) is not a characteristic, AIDS-related physical change. Some AIDS-related changes are: Lipodystrophy, which is also fat redistribution. Loss of fat under the skin (subcutaneous fat), and Wasting syndrome, which is considered an AIDS-defining condition.

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