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

  • HIV lifecycle

    The immune system is the body’s natural defence system.To survive, HIV needs to infect cells in which new viruses can be made.Different anti-HIV drugs target different...

    From: Factsheets

    Information level Level 2
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • HIV and the immune system

    The immune system is the body’s natural defence system. It’s a network of cells, tissues and organs inside the body.The immune system recognises and fights...

    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
  • Primary infection

    Early HIV infection can cause flu-like symptoms.Some HIV tests cannot detect very recent infections.There is more risk of transmitting HIV in the early stages of...

    From: Factsheets

    Information level Level 2
  • Health issues

    If you are ‘HIV positive’ this means that you have a virus called HIV in your body. It doesn’t mean that you are ill, or that...

    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

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

  • PET Scans May Predict Who Gets Inflammatory Reaction to HIV Treatment Start

    The imaging method known as a PET scan may be able to predict who among those starting antiretroviral (ARV) treatment with an immune system highly damaged by HIV will develop HIV-associated immune reconstitution syndrome (IRIS).

    26 September 2018 | Poz
  • Video SNiP: PET Scan “Hot Spots” Help Visualize Inflammatory Complication of HIV

    Infectious-disease and radiology researchers from NIAID and the NIH Clinical Center are working together to visualize and predict HIV-associated immune reconstitution syndrome (IRIS) in a new way—with positron emission tomography (PET). The researchers describe their findings in a paper published this week in Clinical Infectious Diseases and in a new NIAID Video SNiP.

    14 September 2018 | National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
  • Why has HIV in Saskatchewan become more harmful for some people?

    Reports have suggested that HIV may be progressing more rapidly in Saskatchewan. Researchers analyzed the genetic sequences of HIV among people in the province. They discovered strains of HIV that have adapted to some people’s immune defences.

    22 August 2018 | CATIE
  • HIV vaccine elicits antibodies in animals that neutralize dozens of HIV strains

    NIH study results represent major advance for structure-based HIV vaccine design.

    05 June 2018 | National Institutes of Health (press release)
  • New findings on inflammation & how it affects people with HIV

    “There is a large set of adverse events that HIV-infected individuals suffer from that appear to be associated with inflammation,” lead study author Brian Hart told BETA. “These events are relatively common and can affect length and quality of life.”

    27 April 2018 | BETA blog
  • Has Basic Science in HIV Research Stalled?

    Now that effective therapies for active HIV infection are broadly available, there should be renewed focus on basic science regarding HIV, said experts contacted by MedPage Today.

    09 April 2018 | MedPage Today
  • How HIV Alters Cells May Facilitate Sexual Transmission of Hepatitis C

    A new study identifies key changes that HIV makes to Langerhans cells in the mucosal lining of the rectum.

    22 March 2018 | Poz
  • Statement of UNAIDS on news reports of a new HIV strain in the Philippines

    UNAIDS is concerned that media reports which make reference to HIV research in the Philippines are being interpreted as saying that there is a new and untreatable strain of the virus in the country. There is no new strain of HIV which has been found in the Philippines.

    21 March 2018 | UNAIDS Asia-Pacific
  • Issue Brief: Suboptimal Immune Recovery on Antiretroviral Therapy

    A subset of people on ART experience limited or no recovery of CD4+ T cell counts despite achieving and maintaining undetectable HIV viral loads, and these individuals have an elevated risk of illness and death compared with counterparts who obtain greater CD4+ T cell gains.

    06 March 2018 | TAG
  • Scientists Find No Signs That Well-Treated HIV Replicates in Lymph Nodes

    A research team has found no evidence of ongoing HIV replication in the lymph nodes among individuals receiving fully suppressive antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for the virus. This finding stands in sharp contrast to the conclusions of a 2016 study out of Northwestern University, published in Nature, that indicated that even in the face of ARV treatment, HIV replicates in the lymph nodes, thus helping to replenish the viral reservoir.

    06 March 2018 | 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.