HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus and it weakens your immune system by destroying healthy cells that fight infection and disease. In cases where HIV remains untreated, patients can develop AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) which can lead more easily to serious complications.
HIV is most commonly spread through unprotected vaginal or anal sex. It can also be passed on by sharing infected needles and other injecting equipment, and from an HIV-positive mother to her child during pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding.
Whilst anyone can get HIV, the majority of infections to date in the UK relate to gay men, bisexual men and other men who have sex with men. There are certain minority ethnic communities who also face higher risk of HIV, mainly in Black African communities with links to countries where there has been a wider spread of the infection also in the heterosexual community.
People living with HIV are generally referred to as either "people living with HIV" or as being "HIV Positive".