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Human immunodeficiency virus infection / Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The illness interferes with the immune system, making people with AIDS much more likely to get infections, including opportunistic infections and tumors that do not usually affect people with working immune systems. This susceptibility increases as the disease worsens.
HIV is transmitted primarily via sexual intercourse (including oral sex and anal sex), contaminated blood transfusions and hypodermic needles, and from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding. Some bodily fluids, like saliva or tears, do not transmit HIV. Prevention of HIV infection, primarily through safe sex and needle-exchange programs, is a key strategy to control the disease. There is no known cure for or vaccine; however, antiretroviral treatment can slow the course of the disease and may lead to a near-normal life expectancy. While antiretroviral treatment reduces the risk of death and complications from the disease, these medications are expensive and may be associated with side effects of their own.
HIV/AIDS is a major health problem in many parts of the world, and is considered a pandemic—a disease outbreak which is present over a large area and is actively spreading. As of 2010, approximately 34 million people have HIV globally. Of these, approximately 16.8 million are women and 3.4 million are less than 15 years old. HIV/AIDS resulted in about 1.8 million deaths in 2010, down from 3.1 million in 2001. Since AIDS was first recognized in 1981, it has led to nearly 30 million deaths (as of 2009).
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