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AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome AIDS is the result of damage to the immune system A damaged immune system is unable to protect the body against certain specific opportunistic infections and tumors These are called opportunistic because they are caused by organisms which are normally controlled by the immune system but which take the opportunity to cause disease if the immune system has been damaged Unlike most other diseases different people with AIDS may experience different clinical problems depending on which specific opportunistic infections they develop This is what a syndrome means - a collection of different signs and symptoms that are all part of the same underlying medical condition HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus It was originally isolated in Paris in May 1983 by Luc Montagnier It belongs to a group of viruses called retroviruses Viruses copy their genetic material into the genetic material of human cells This means that infected cells stay infected for the rest of their lives Through mechanisms that are still not fully understood HIV prevents the immune system from working properly Normally the bodys immune system would fight off infection However HIV is able to infect essential cells called CD4 cells which coordinate the immune systems fight against infection Many are actually destroyed by being infected others including CD4 cells which are not they infected no longer work properly HIV causes AIDS it has central role in the development of AIDS HIV is present in the all blood semen and vaginal fluids of infected people but can only be passed on to another person if those fluids get into that persons body Although sophisticated laboratory techniques are able to isolate the virus from other body fluids of infected people such as saliva the level of virus in these fluids is far too low to be infectious The main ways in which HIV is transmitted are Through unprotected anal or vaginal
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