About HIV

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus

The virus can only survive in human cells. Once HIV enters the body, it infects white blood cells (CD4 cells) and begins to weaken a person’s immune system, leaving them unable to fight disease and infection.

HIV is transmitted through five body fluids:

  • Blood
  • Semen
  • Vaginal and anal fluids
  • Breast milk

HIV cannot be transmitted though:

  • Saliva
  • Tears
  • Urine

HIV Testing Approximately 62,050 Canadians have been diagnosed with HIV at the end of 2018 and 1 in 8 people living with the illness don’t know their status. In Alberta, there were approximately 7702 known HIV diagnoses in 2019, with 252 of these cases being new diagnoses.

Because HIV often doesn’t show any noticeable symptoms for many years after it enters the body, many people do not know they have been infected. Testing is a critical tool in addressing HIV. Regular screening, as a routine part of personal health care, can significantly help reduce the number of new infections in the community. Learn more about testing on our Testing page.

HIV Treatment There is no cure for HIV, but with proper treatment and care there’s no reason why you can’t thrive, achieve your aspirations, and live a long and happy life. You are not alone. Find out where to turn next, who can help & what you need to know by visiting our Treatment page.

HIV vs. AIDS People often get confused between HIV and AIDS. HIV is something that can be measured. It is a virus that enters the body and weakens the immune system. You can be tested for HIV. AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. An AIDS diagnosis is a combination of being HIV positive and having one or more opportunistic infections, such as cancer. AIDS is a diagnosis, a medical term to identify illness. HIV and AIDS are two very different things. With adequate support and treatment to keep the immune system strong, people can live well with HIV for many years.