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AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is caused by HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), and is a syndrome that leaves the body vulnerable to a host of life-threatening illnesses. There is no cure for AIDS, but treatment with antiviral medicine can suppress symptoms. AIDS is universally fatal, in large part due to the proliferation of opportunistic infections.

Review Date 12/10/2015

Updated by: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.