AIDS Law and Legal Definition

AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is the final and most serious stage of HIV disease, which causes severe damage to the immune system. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes AIDS. The virus attacks the immune system and leaves the body vulnerable to a variety of life-threatening infections and cancers.

HIV has been detected in saliva, tears, nervous system tissue, blood, semen (including pre-seminal fluid), vaginal fluid, and breast milk. However, only blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk have been proven to transmit infection to others.

Transmission of the virus occurs:

  1. Through sexual contact -- including oral, vaginal, and anal sex
  2. Through blood -- via blood transfusions or needle sharing
  3. From mother to child -- a pregnant woman can transmit the virus to her fetus through their shared blood circulation, or a nursing mother can transmit it to her baby in her milk

Other much less common transmission methods include accidental needle injury, artificial insemination with donated semen, and through a donated organ.