AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. It is the final stage of infection with HIV. Not everyone with HIV develops AIDS.
It harms the immune system by destroying the white blood cells that fight infection. This puts you at risk for serious infections and certain cancers.
HIV most often spreads through unprotected sex with a person who has HIV. It may also spread by sharing drug needles or through contact with the blood of a person who has HIV. Women can give it to their babies during pregnancy or childbirth.
The first signs of HIV infection may be swollen glands and flu-like symptoms. These may come and go within two to four weeks. Severe symptoms may not apurear until months or years later.