HIV is a viral infection that can be transmitted sexually (by having sex without a condom). 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.
When someone is infected with HIV, the virus attaches onto the specific cells in the immune system that help protect us and keep us healthy. It eventually kills off these cells weakening the immune system so that it is unable to fight off infections and other illnesses.
There is no cure for HIV, but there are treatments to enable most people with the virus to live a long and healthy life. These treatments are much more effective if the virus is diagnosed and the treatment is started soon after the point of infection. A regular sexual health check-up at Sexual Health Sheffield’s STI Screening and Testing Service can include a blood test for HIV.