Change of address

The Foundation’s London office has moved. Our new address is: Elton John AIDS Foundation, 88 Old Street, London, EC1V 9HU

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HIV can affect anyone and it’s vital that everyone has access to safe and stigma-free HIV testing, treatment, and information. With amazing advances in HIV treatment, people who get care early enough can live full and healthy lives.

Young people, the LGBTQ+ community, and people who use drugs face specific challenges and barriers when it comes to accessing healthcare services. Through our work with global partners, it’s our mission to break down these barriers and end AIDS for all.




CD4 count

Viral load


Human Immunodeficiency Virus attacks a person’s immune system. It destroys cells that fight infection and disease, meaning the body is less able to defend itself.

People who acquire HIV will live with it for the rest of their life, but with treatment it can be controlled. As long as someone with HIV gets the right care, they can have a healthy immune system.


If left untreated, HIV can develop into AIDS – Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

This is the most advanced stage of HIV, when the immune system is significantly damaged. When HIV progresses to AIDS, a person can be more likely to get severe infections and certain cancers.

AIDS cannot be transmitted. The HIV virus can.

CD4 count

The level of CD4 cells in a person’s body can show how well their immune system is functioning, and can help measure how far the HIV virus has progressed. This is called a ‘CD4 count’.

Viral load

When someone is diagnosed with HIV, it’s possible to measure how much of the virus is in their system. This is called their ‘viral load’.

HIV treatment works to ‘suppress’ a person’s viral load (keep it low). Effective treatment enables a person to suppress their viral load so much that it becomes ‘undetectable’. People with an undetectable load can live long, healthy lives and will not transmit HIV to an HIV-negative partner.

Undetectable = Untransmittable.

Getting Tested for HIV

In the early stages, a person with HIV can have zero symptoms. Knowing your status early not only makes it more likely you’ll live a long and healthy life, but also helps stop transmission of the virus to others.

Testing is the only way to know your HIV status for sure. If you’ve never had an HIV test, or think you may have been exposed to HIV, it’s recommended you get a test as soon as possible. There are lots of ways to test – you can go to your doctor or local sexual health clinic, or order a free or low-cost at-home testing kit online. Testing is confidential and many providers also offer counselling if needed.

Getting tested helps you take charge of your health and get the care you need to thrive.

Visit CDC’s ‘Get Tested’ to search for free HIV testing resources in the United States.

Use the NHS’ Service Search to find HIV testing services in England.

Global HIV statistics


new HIV diagnoses every minute


people are living with HIV worldwide


people not on life-saving HIV treatment

HIV prevention and treatment

Who can contract HIV?

Anyone can contract HIV, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or background.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 gets tested for HIV at least once as part of routine healthcare. However, certain individuals have a higher risk of contracting HIV and may need to test more often.

How is HIV transmitted?

HIV is passed on through certain bodily fluids, if a person with HIV has a detectable viral load. These include blood, semen (including pre-seminal fluid, or pre-cum), vaginal fluid, anal mucus and breast milk.

HIV is NOT passed on by kissing, touching, spitting, sneezing or coughing. It’s not passed on through saliva, sweat or urine.

Find out more from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

How can I protect myself from HIV?

It’s crucial to practise safe sex and regularly get tested for HIV. Encourage your sexual partners to do the same.

You can reduce your risk by:

  • using condoms during sex
  • consider using preventive methods like pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)
  • not sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs.

Regular testing helps reduce the spread of HIV and other STIs.

About PEP

If you think you’ve been exposed to HIV in the last 3 days, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) may stop you from contracting the infection. The sooner you take this medication, the more likely it is to work. You can get PEP at a sexual health clinic, or at a hospital emergency department if clinics are closed.

PEP is not intended for regular use – if you think you might be exposed to HIV frequently, talk to a doctor or clinician about PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis).

About PrEP

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), is a medicine that can stop HIV from taking hold and spreading in your body. For people more likely to be exposed to HIV – for example if their sexual partner has HIV or if they inject drugs – PrEP can work very well.

If it’s taken as prescribed, it reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99%. Among people who inject drugs, it reduces the risk by about 74%.

About HIV treatment

People with HIV can take medicine called Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) to reduce the amount of HIV in their body. It’s recommended for everyone with HIV, as soon as possible after diagnosis. Treatment usually involves a combination of medicines taken in pill or injection form depending on the person’s situation.

People living with HIV who get the support they need and remain in treatment can get their viral load to an undetectable level, so that they can live long and healthy lives, and not pass the virus on.

Our Impact




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