The HIV virus, which currently has no cure, attacks the immune system of affected individuals and eventually leads to AIDS. However, proper treatment allows people to control the condition and live healthy lives. 

The first stage of HIV, known as acute HIV infection, may involve flu-like conditions and a high degree of contagiousness amongst those affected. However, many individuals in this stage do not feel sick at all. 

Chronic HIV infection, also known as clinical latency or asymptomatic HIV infection, follows the first stage. This second phase can last over a decade and leads to an increase in symptoms and the final stage, AIDS. 

With modern medical treatment, progression to AIDS is less common than in years past. 

However, without medical treatment, individuals diagnosed with AIDS will only survive for an average of 3 years.

David Abele is the founder of the Birchwood Project and board president of DIVAMN, a nonprofit organization that works to advance awareness of HIV/AIDS while also raising funds in creative industries to make an impact in Minnesota.  A graduate of the University of Minnesota, he has served residential real estate clients in the Minneapolis region for over 25 years at the ARESI Group.