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Cause of HIV

HIV or the Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a virus that kills or damages the body's immune system and progressively destroys the body's mechanisms to fight against diseases. This leads people to end up with life threatening conditions with are caused due to opportunistic infections. These infections are caused by organisms which take advantage of the body’s lowered immunity. T-helper cells or CD4+ T cells are critical immune cells which get killed or disabled when a person in infected by HIV. As these cells are killed, opportunistic infections and cancers attack the person, and this is accompanied by gradual degeneration of the entire body. In adults, HIV is primarily transmitted through sexual intercourse with an infected partner, blood transfusions where the donor's blood is not screened properly and also through the sharing of needles and syringes between people who are infected and those who are not. Interestingly, even blood that has been screened could have traces of HIV, which could infect the person receiving the transfusion. In the case of children, the primary cause of infection by HIV is through infected mothers. While the baby does not get infected during the course of pregnancy, infection happens during the process of birth, when the infant swallows fluids that could carry the virus. Infected mothers who breastfeed their children could also spread the virus to their babies.

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