HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is the virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS. Unlike some other viruses, the human body cannot get rid of HIV. That means that once you have HIV, you have it for life.
In the United States, HIV is spread mainly by having sex with or sharing drug injection equipment with someone who is infected with HIV. Learn which kinds of sexual activity are riskiest and why HIV cannot be spread by casual contact such as hugging or shaking hands.