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When HIV uses the cell's genetic material, it damages the T-cell making it unable to do its job in our immune system. The more of these CD4, or T-cells that are damaged, the weaker your immune system becomes. Eventually, your immune system will become so weak that it will not be able to protect you from other illnesses and infections, thus you become sick. HIV does not make you sick, but it weakens your immune system, allowing other illnesses and infections to make you sick. Those with HIV and AIDS are usually susceptible to tuberculosis and other kinds of otherwise rare infections of the lung--such as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, infections of the surface covering of the brain, or meningitis, or the brain itself or encephalitis. The immune defect caused by having too few CD4 cells also permits some cancers that are stimulated by viral illness to occur. Some people with AIDS get forms of lymphoma and a rare tumor of blood vessels in the skin called Kaposi's sarcoma. People who have AIDS tend to keep getting sicker, especially if they are not taking antiviral medications properly.
AIDS is the most advanced stages of HIV. As the immune system deteriorates, a variety of complications begins to surface. One of the first such symptoms experienced by many people infected with HIV is large lymph nodes or "swollen glands" that may be enlarged for more than three months. Other symptoms often experienced months to years before the onset of AIDS include a lack of energy, weight loss, frequent fevers and sweats, persistent or frequent yeast infections (oral or vaginal), persistent skin rashes or flaky skin, pelvic inflammatory disease that does not respond to treatment or short-term memory loss.
The blood, vaginal fluid, semen, and breast milk of people infected with HIV has enough of the virus in it to infect other people. Most people get the HIV virus by: .having sex with an infected person; .sharing a needle (shooting drugs) with someone who's infected; .being born when their mother is infected, or drinking the breast milk of an infected woman.