Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
A usually fatal, progressive disease in which the immune system is severely damaged following infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). AIDS can be spread through sharing needles among drug addicts, sexual contact, and from mother to child during pregnancy, labor and delivery, or breast-feeding. New medicines have markedly reduced the risk of transmission from mother to child and have also improved the survival and quality of life for infected persons. Unfortunately, the burden of this disease in the developing world is staggering.
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