Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a chronic and potentially fatal disease of the immune system. It is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which attacks a specific type of white blood cell known as T-lymphocytes. These cells are measured in the blood as the CD4 count. The lower a person's CD4 count, the weaker the person's immune system. As the immune system grows weaker, people with HIV and AIDS are more vulnerable to infections and cancers that the immune system would ordinarily fight off.

More than 50,000 new cases of HIV infection occur in the United States every year. A massive research effort has produced better treatments, resulting in longer survival and improved quality of life for those with access to treatments. However, there is still no vaccine or cure.

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Review Date: 4/1/2016  

Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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