HIV and AIDS first began to garner international attention in the 1980s. Since then, medical researchers have made leaps and bounds in regard to treating HIV and AIDS, learning a lot more about both conditions along the way.
As researchers have accomplished a lot over the last 30-plus years in regard to treating HIV and AIDS, educators and organizations that aim to raise awareness about both conditions have made great strides as well. One such organization is Avert, which tries to increase knowledge and understanding of HIV and AIDS so people can make informed choices and live healthily. Avert shares information about HIV and AIDS through various channels, including its website (Avert.org), and working with partners in sub-Saharan Africa.
While many young adults and even men and women approaching middle age learned about HIV and AIDS in the classroom, a refresher course on the basics of HIV and AIDS can shed light on these conditions and how prevalent they still are in many places around the globe.

What is HIV?
HIV is a virus that attacks cells in the immune system. According to Avert, the HIV virus destroys a white blood cell in the immune system called a T-helper cell, making copies of itself inside these cells. As the virus destroys more cells and makes more copies of itself, the immune weakens more and more. This is why people who do not take or have access to antiretroviral treatment find it harder to fight off infections and diseases. If HIV is left untreated,  it can take between 10 and 15 years for the immune system to deteriorate to a point where it can no longer defend itself. However, the progression of HIV varies and is influenced by a host of factors, including age and overall health.

What is AIDS?
AIDS is a set of symptoms caused by HIV. The last stage of HIV, AIDS is diagnosed when an infected person’s immune system is too weak to fight off infection. At that point, the infected person develops certain defining symptoms and illnesses indicative of AIDS.
Thanks to the work of researchers and organizations such as Avert that spread information about HIV and AIDS, fewer people now develop AIDS than in previous decades. Researchers have developed treatments for HIV that can delay and/or prevent the virus from advancing to a stage where infected persons would be diagnosed with AIDS, while organizations that aim to educate people about HIV and AIDS have no doubt prevented millions across the globe from contracting the HIV virus.
Great strides have been made in regard to treating and educating people about HIV and AIDS. Learn more at www.avert.org.