Knowledge about the HIV lifecycle and how HIV affects the body. News and research in basic science that may contribute to the development of new treatments, a cure or a vaccine.

How HIV works: latest news

How HIV works resources

  • Better off knowing

    The sooner you know you have HIV, the sooner you can get the medical care you need. If you know you have HIV, you can...

    From: The basics

    Information level Level 1
  • Transmission facts

    HIV can only be passed on when one person's body fluids get inside another person. HIV can be passed on during sex without a condom,...

    From: The basics

    Information level Level 1
  • Very recent infection

    During the first few weeks after becoming infected with HIV, your body's immune system is working out what HIV is and how to get it...

    From: The basics

    Information level Level 1
  • Viral load

    Effective HIV treatment results in a fall in viral loadAn undetectable viral load is the aim of HIV treatment.People who are taking effective HIV treatment...

    From: Factsheets

    Information level Level 2
  • Drug resistance

    It's important to always take your HIV treatment at the right times and in the right amounts. If you don't, HIV may become drug resistant.When...

    From: The basics

    Information level Level 1
  • Myths and facts

    There's a lot of misunderstanding and HIV and AIDS. Not everything you hear about HIV and AIDS is true.Some of the myths are about how...

    From: The basics

    Information level Level 1
  • CD4 and viral load

    It’s important for all people with HIV to have regular blood tests. The two most important blood tests are for CD4 and viral load.CD4 and...

    From: The basics

    Information level Level 1
  • How treatment works

    HIV treatment helps you stay well by reducing the amount of HIV in your body. All anti-HIV drugs try to prevent HIV infecting new cells,...

    From: The basics

    Information level Level 1
  • Your next steps

    A booklet with information for people who’ve just found out they have HIV. ...

    From: Booklets

    Information level Level 2
  • Introduction to HIV and AIDS

    An introduction to HIV and AIDS, including how HIV is transmitted and detected, the history of the epidemic and definitions of disease stages....

    From: HIV treatments directory

    Information level Level 4
  • The immune system and HIV

    A description of how the immune system works, its response to HIV, and factors affecting disease progression....

    From: HIV treatments directory

    Information level Level 4

How HIV works features

How HIV works in your own words

  • Seroconversion

    I was given my diagnosis over the telephone after spending four days in hospital with meningitis. I now realise it wasn’t meningitis, it was an...

    From: In your own words

How HIV works news from aidsmap

More news

How HIV works news selected from other sources

  • Scientists Identify Factors That Make People Naturally Resistant to HIV

    Studying key points on the HIV virus that are weak to immune system attacks could lead to new treatments or HIV vaccines.

    07 May 2019 | Smithsonian
  • In rare cases, immune system fails despite HIV suppression

    Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is usually effective at suppressing HIV, allowing the immune system to recover by preventing the virus from destroying CD4+ T cells. Scientists have now identified a rare, paradoxical response to ART called extreme immune decline, or EXID. Five individuals evaluated at the NIAID experienced a significant decline in CD4+ T cell levels despite suppression of HIV below detectable levels for more than three years, according to a new report.

    23 April 2019 | EurekAlert
  • New study reveals HIV’s vulnerabilities, opening up possibilities for complementary therapies

    A new study’s findings suggest that we may have found a way to reveal the virus’s presence in human cells. In the study published Wednesday in Cell & Host Microbe, scientists were able to identify a new shape of an essential HIV protein that allows the virus to gain entry into our cells. And it turns out that keeping this protein — known as Envelope — in this new shape might reveal vulnerabilities within the virus to make it visible to the immune system.

    11 April 2019 | STAT
  • Your sexual partners can change your microbiome, finds a study in mice

    The study also hints at a link between those microbiome changes and a person's immune system and susceptibility to infections like HIV.

    05 April 2019 | STAT
  • Detectable HIV Despite Treatment? Clonal Expansion Could Be The Culprit

    In a study of people with a low but detectable viral load despite adherence to treatment, infected cells were apparently cloning themselves.

    14 March 2019 | Poz
  • HIV-Related Immune Activation May Predict Weight Gain and Exacerbate Complications, Especially in Women

    HIV can cause persistent immune activation that contributes to an increased risk of complications such as heart disease and certain cancers. New NIAID-supported research presented today [March 6] at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle sheds light on the relationship between immune activation and weight gain.

    11 March 2019 | HIV.gov
  • Has a second person with HIV been cured?

    “This is a big deal,” says Sharon Lewin, who heads the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Melbourne, Australia. “It tells us that Timothy Brown wasn’t a one-off.” Although the interventions that the two patients received could only be used on a tiny fraction of the 37 million HIV-infected people worldwide, their stories point to cure strategies that could be more widely applicable.

    06 March 2019 | Science Magazine
  • Using anti-cancer immunotherapy to fight HIV

    Researchers at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM) have shown that immunotherapy treatments against cancer could reduce the amount of virus that persists in people on triple therapy. In a study published in the journal Nature Communications, they show, in the cells of people living with HIV, how these therapies reveal the virus - until now hidden in the hollows of infected cells - to the immune system.

    20 February 2019 | Eurekalert Medicine & Health
  • Insufficient food linked to inflammation in HIV-positive women

    Past research with HIV-negative people suggests that food insecurity is associated with heightened levels of inflammation. Now, in a recent study, scientists at 10 major clinics across the U.S. have found that food insecurity was linked to an increased risk of elevated inflammation among HIV-positive women. The link between food insecurity and inflammation was present even in women whose viral loads were suppressed due to good adherence to ART.

    29 January 2019 | CATIE
  • HIV Establishes Reservoir Within Three Days in Monkeys

    Beginning six months of treatment within two days following infection prevented viral rebound in at least some animals in a recent study.

    01 January 2019 | Poz
More news

Our information levels explained

  • Short and simple introductions to key HIV topics, sometimes illustrated with pictures.
  • Expands on the previous level, but also written in easy-to-understand plain language.
  • More detailed information, likely to include medical and scientific language.
  • Detailed, comprehensive information, using medical and specialised language.
Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention

Together, we can make it happen

We can end HIV soon if people have equal access to HIV drugs as treatment and as PrEP, and have free choice over whether to take them.

Launched today, the Community Consensus Statement is a basic set of principles aimed at making sure that happens.

The Community Consensus Statement is a joint initiative of AVAC, EATG, MSMGF, GNP+, HIV i-Base, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ITPC and NAM/aidsmap
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This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.

NAM’s information is intended to support, rather than replace, consultation with a healthcare professional. Talk to your doctor or another member of your healthcare team for advice tailored to your situation.