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Human immunodeficiency virus or HIV is a viral condition which causes AIDS, or “acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.” People infected with HIV may be asymptomatic for long periods of time before their health is compromised in any way. When AIDS develops, the patient’s immune system is severely weakened, allowing for a wide range of opportunistic infections, diseases and cancers to take a heavy toll on the patient’s health. HIV is transmitted through bodily fluid; primary forms of transmission include unprotected sexual intercourse and the sharing of needles for intravenous drug use. It can also be passed from mother to child, if the mother is infected before or during pregnancy.