HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks the immune system and weakens the body's natural way to fight infections.

Signs and symptoms

Soon after HIV infection, some people may feel as if they have the flu. They may have a fever, headache, tiredness and a rash. Others may not. Sometimes people start developing symptoms, like tiredness and night sweats, two to seven years after they are first infected.

People with HIV can look and feel healthy and many don't realise they have it.

Risk factors

Unprotected anal or vaginal sex with someone who has HIV and is not on treatment.
Sharing needles, syringes or other injecting equipment.

What can happen

If left untreated, HIV can cause AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome), a syndrome which occurs when the body's immune system is damaged and cannot fight off infections and cancer.
If people are HIV-positive, pregnant, and not on treatment there is a risk that their baby may be born with HIV.


There is currently no vaccine or cure for HIV, but people who are HIV-positive can take daily medications which keep their HIV under control.

There are services for people with HIV that provide medical, social, emotional and other kinds of support. For more information about HIV contact the WA AIDS Council on (08) 9482 0000 or or go to WA AIDS Council website (external site) To find a health service near you go to Find a Service.


  • Always use condoms or dams and water-based lubricant.
  • Make sure tattoo or body piercing equipment has been sterilised, and don't share other people's earrings or body jewellery.
  • Don't share injecting equipment if you inject drugs and always use new needles and syringes.
  • Don't share personal items like razors or toothbrushes because they can carry traces of infected blood.

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