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HIV & AIDS Health Center

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AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)

It is possible that the main title of the report AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.


  • Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome

Disorder Subdivisions

  • AIDS related complex
  • ARC
  • AIDS Prodrome
  • Wasting/Lymph Node Syndrome
  • Mini-AIDS
  • AIDS-Related Complex (ARC)

General Discussion

AIDS is an infectious disorder that suppresses the normal function of the immune system. It is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which destroys the body's ability to fight infections. Specific cells of the immune system that are responsible for the proper response to infections (T cells) are destroyed by this virus. Characteristically a person infected with HIV initially experiences no symptoms for a variable period of time. This may be followed by the development of persistent generalized swelling of the lymph nodes (AIDS-related lymphadenopathy). Eventually most patients infected with HIV experience a syndrome of symptoms that includes excessive fatigue, weight loss, and/or skin rashes.

The later stages of HIV infection are characterized by the progressive depression of T cells and repeated infections that can even occur during a course of antibiotic therapy for another infection (superinfections). People with AIDS are particularly vulnerable to "opportunistic infections" from bacteria that other people normally fight off. Pneumocystis carinii, which causes severe inflammation of the lungs (pneumonia), is a common infection that affects people with AIDS. Cancers (malignant neoplasms), and a wide variety of neurological abnormalities, most notably the AIDS dementia complex, may also occur. These neurological symptoms when of HIV, infects the nervous system.


Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S.
90 John St.
Suite 704
New York, NY 10038
Tel: (212)819-9770
Fax: (212)819-9776

amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research
120 Wall Street
13th Floor
New York, NY 10005-3908
Tel: (212)806-1600
Fax: (212)806-1601
Tel: (800)392-6327

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30333
Tel: (404)639-3534
Tel: (800)232-4636
TDD: (888)232-6348

NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Office of Communications and Government Relations
6610 Rockledge Drive, MSC 6612
Bethesda, MD 20892-6612
Tel: (301)496-5717
Fax: (301)402-3573
Tel: (866)284-4107
TDD: (800)877-8339

American Social Health Association
P.O. Box 13827
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709
Tel: (919)361-8400
Fax: (919)361-8425

HIV/AIDS Treatment Information Service
P.O. Box 6303
Rockville, MD 20849-6303
Tel: (301)519-0459
Fax: (301)519-6616
Tel: (800)448-0440
TDD: (888)480-3739

CDC Business Responds to AID/Labor Responds to AIDS
P.O. Box 6003
Rockville, MD 20849-6003
Tel: (877)242-9760
Fax: (301)562-1050
Tel: (301)562-1098
TDD: (240)514-2780

Health Information Network
P.O. Box 30762
7211 Greenwood Ave N.
Seattle, WA 98113
Tel: (206)784-5655
Fax: (203)784-3240

Hemophilia Federation of America
210 7th St. SE
Suite 200B
Washington, DC 20003
Tel: (202)675-6984
Fax: (202)675-6983
Tel: (800)230-9797

P.O. Box 4780
Rockville, MD 20849-6303
Fax: (305)315-2818
Tel: (800)448-0440
TDD: (888)480-3739

Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center
PO Box 8126
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
Tel: (301)251-4925
Fax: (301)251-4911
Tel: (888)205-2311
TDD: (888)205-3223

Center for Peripheral Neuropathy
University of Chicago
5841 South Maryland Ave, MC 2030
Chicago, IL 60637
Tel: (773)702-5659
Fax: (773)702-5577

For a Complete Report:

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). A copy of the complete report can be downloaded free from the NORD website for registered users. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational therapies (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, go to and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only. NORD recommends that affected individuals seek the advice or counsel of their own personal physicians.

It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report

This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

For additional information and assistance about rare disorders, please contact the National Organization for Rare Disorders at P.O. Box 1968, Danbury, CT 06813-1968; phone (203) 744-0100; web site or email

Last Updated: 8/8/2007
Copyright 1986, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2007 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

WebMD Medical Reference from the National Organization for Rare Disorders

Last Updated: 8/, 015
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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