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'Human Immunodeficiency Virus' (or HIV) is the term used to describe a virus present in the blood stream that can at some stage lead to a health condition called 'Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome' (or AIDS). AIDS is a condition where the person has a weakened immune system making them very susceptible to relatively normal infections such as the common cold or diarrhoea, sometimes being ill to the point that the otherwise mild (or 'opportunistic') infection becomes life-threatening. A person can have a blood test that shows they are 'HIV positive', but they may not be ill and may never actually progress on to having AIDS.
HIV was first identified in the early 1980's and a blood test to detect the virus became available in May 1985. Australia has screened all blood and organ donations for HIV-AIDS since May 1985. This has virtually eliminated contracting the HIV virus through a blood transfusion, or by receiving other blood or body products.
HIV is a notifiable disease within Australia, reported by health professionals to the Department of Health's National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). However, these reports do not contain information that identifies an individual person. Around 60 to 90 women are diagnosed with HIV in Australia every year. About 1% of all HIV positive people in Australia are babies.