What is HIV ?

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus


The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus which attacks the body’s immune system which, if left untreated, can leave the body vulnerable to infections with which it would normally cope.
There is no vaccine or cure for HIV however, effective treatment is available that allows individuals living with the virus to live a long and healthy life.
Over 8000 infections have been diagnosed in Scotland since the early 1980s. It is estimated that a quarter of people living with HIV in Scotland are unaware of their infection. Those who are unaware of their status remain at risk to their own health and of unknowingly passing the infection onto others.

What is AIDS?

AIDS – Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome

HIV is the virus which causes AIDS. HIV progressively attacks the body’s immune system and, if left untreated, can leave the body unable to fight off infections. A person is said to have AIDS when the immune system has become so damaged that it can no longer fight off certain illnesses (referred to as indicator illnesses – further information can be found in the symptoms section).

It can take around 10 years before HIV has damaged the immune system enough for AIDS (late stage HIV) to develop.
With timely testing, diagnosis and correct treatment, people living with HIV would not reach late stage HIV infection. It is possible to reverse an AIDS diagnosis in the event of late diagnosis.  With the development of effective treatments, it is rare for anyone in Scotland to have an AIDS diagnosis.