HIV: Psychological and Behavioral Factors

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a type of retrovirus that destroys components of the human immune system. If the infection remains untreated, the destruction of the immune system progresses undetected over a timespan that may be 10 years or more. When immune system functioning falls below a critical level, the diagnosis is acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). This progression from HIV infection to AIDS leaves individuals with a weakened immune system that makes them vulnerable to a range of infections, including bacteria, fungi, and parasites, as well as other viruses and even some cancers.

This type of immune deficiency results in infections that are unusual for individuals with intact immune systems. In the early 1980s, physicians in the United States and Europe began to ...

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