Do you know the difference between HIV and AIDs?

1 December 2023

Although HIV and AIDs might be commonly known, many people do not know how they are linked.

World AIDS Day

Quick facts

HIV and AIDs are different things.

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus which weakens a person’s immune system and makes it hard to fight off infections. It is mainly spread by having unprotected sex or by sharing injecting equipment with a person who has HIV, especially if they are not on HIV treatment. If left untreated, HIV can lead to AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome).

AIDS occurs when the body’s immune system is weakened and is unable to fight off infections and illnesses effectively. In Australia, where highly effective treatments are available, very few people with HIV progress to AIDS.

HIV can be managed by daily medication.

The importance of testing

There is no cure for HIV, but there are effective treatments that suppress the virus. Staying on treatment and having an undetectable viral load means that HIV cannot be transmitted through unprotected sex. This is known as ‘Undetectable = Untransmissible’ or ‘U=U’. 

The only way to find out if you have HIV is to have a blood test.

Once detected, you can get the right advice and treatment.

This World AIDS Day we encourage you to:

  • Get tested: Everyone should know their HIV status. Find a service where you can get tested at Get the Facts (external site)
  • Be informed: Get the right information on how to prevent HIV.
  • Talk: Be the person who understands how to take care of their sexual health and knows the facts about blood-borne viruses.