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Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection 

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection

Andrew Boulle

and Leigh Johnson

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date: 17 April 2021

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) destroys human immune cells, thereby severely weakening the immune system and increasing the risk of opportunistic infections, some cancers, and chronic diseases. The two main types of HIV (HIV-1 and HIV-2) are further subdivided into groups and clades (or subtypes). The main route of transmission of HIV to adults is currently through sexual contact, although it can be transmitted through blood and blood products, vertically, and through breastfeeding. Diagnosis and effective antiretroviral therapy exist. Preventive measures include provision of information, counselling and testing, use of antiretrovirals, treatment of other sexually transmitted infections, male circumcision, use of condoms, prevention of mother-to-child transmission, safer blood transfusion, needle exchange programmes, and addressing social determinants.

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