Home > Government > Departments > Health > Services > HIV/AIDS

What is HIV and Aids?

HIV causes AIDS. HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It breaks down the immune system — our body's protection against disease.
HIV causes people to become sick with infections that normally wouldn't affect them. AIDS is short for acquired immune deficiency syndrome. It is the most advanced stage of HIV.


What are the symptoms of AIDS?

AIDS symptoms appear in the most advanced stage of HIV disease. In addition to a badly damaged immune system, a person with AIDS may also have

  • thrush — a thick, whitish coating of the tongue or mouth that is caused by a yeast infection and sometimes accompanied by a sore throat
  • severe or recurring vaginal yeast infections
  • chronic pelvic inflammatory disease 
  • severe and frequent infections
  • periods of extreme and unexplained tiredness that may be combined with headaches, lightheadedness, and/or dizziness
  • quick loss of more than 10 pounds of weight that is not due to increased physical exercise or dieting
  • bruising more easily than normal
  • long periods of frequent diarrhea
  • frequent fevers and/or night sweats
  • swelling or hardening of glands located in the throat, armpit, or groin
  • periods of persistent, deep, dry coughing
  • increasing shortness of breath
  • the appearance of discolored or purplish growths on the skin or inside the mouth
  • unexplained bleeding from growths on the skin, from the mouth, nose, anus, or vagina, or from any opening in the body
  • frequent or unusual skin rashes
  • severe numbness or pain in the hands or feet, the loss of muscle control and reflex, paralysis, or loss of muscular strength
  • confusion, personality change, or decreased mental abilities​

What are the symptoms of HIV?

Some people develop HIV symptoms shortly after being infected. But it usually takes more than 10 years. There are several stages of HIV disease. The first HIV symptoms may include swollen glands in the throat, armpit, or groin. Other early HIV symptoms include slight fever, headaches, fatigue, and muscle aches. These symptoms may last for only a few weeks. Then there are usually no HIV symptoms for many years. That is why it can be hard to know if you have HIV. ​

Where can I get tested for HIV?

Tests are available from Gauteng Test centers   and most physicians, hospitals, and health clinics. Local health centers offer free testing. You can also buy an HIV home test kit from your local pharmacy. The Gauteng Department of Health also provides ARV Distribution services.

Read more about the New HIV test kit

Remember to go for HIV counselling before any test.​​

Youth and HIV Infection: How do youth protect themselves from HIV?

The Gauteng AIDS Council prioritizes reduction of new HIV infections to reduce illness and death from AIDS and TB in the future. New HIV infections occur in youth, especially young women of 15 to 29 years and their male sex partners. This is where greater focus and efforts should be put.

Male Medical Circumcision (MMC) and the relation to HIV and AIDS

Medical Male Circumcision (MMC) is an intervention aimed at prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. This intervention forms part of HIV prevention programmes used in combination with other barrier methods like condoms.

The number of facilities performing MMC increased from 68 to 76 public health facilities,5 Non-Medical Sites and 19 Independent Private General Practitioners contracted with the Department.