December 1, 2015 marks World AIDS Day, the first ever global health event. More than 36 million people worldwide are living with HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. In the United States alone, more than 1.3 million Americans carry the virus — that's according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While there is no universal cure for HIV, there are better medical treatments available allowing more people to live longer and with a better quality of life.
Mayo Clinic HIV specialist Stacey Rizza, M.D., says, "It is important that all adults in the United States be screened for HIV, so that those infected can be identified, linked to care and treated for HIV early in the disease. With effective HIV therapy, people can live long healthy lives and significantly decrease the chance of transmitting the virus to other people."
What is HIV?
HIV is a sexually transmitted infection. It can also be spread by contact with infected blood or from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breast-feeding. Without medication, it may take years before HIV weakens your immune system to the point that you have AIDS. Having an HIV infection does not mean you have AIDS. Left untreated, the disease typically progresses to AIDS in about 10 years.