What is HIV?

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It was identified in the early 1980s and belongs to a group of viruses called retroviruses.
HIV stops the body's immune system working properly. It does this by getting inside cells (called CD4 or T-cells) in our immune system. HIV destroys or damages these cells, makes copies of itself and then goes on to infect and destroy or damage more cells. As more cells are destroyed, your immune system gets weaker and can't fight infections properly. This means you can get illnesses more easily. HIV treatment can stop this process so that the immune system can still do its job properly.
Although HIV cannot be cured, it can be treated. Modern HIV treatment means that many people with HIV are living long, healthy lives.