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What are HIV and AIDS? Is HIV different to AIDS?

HIV and AIDS

What is HIV?

HIV is a virus that damages the body’s immune system. If HIV is untreated, it affects and kills CD4 cells, which are a type of immune cell called T cell.

HIV is transferred through bodily fluids that included below:-

  • blood
  • semen
  • vaginal and rectal fluids
  • breast milk

HIV virus is not transmission in air or water, or through casual contact. Because this virus inserts itself into the DNA of cells, it’s a lifelong condition and currently, there’s no drug that eliminates HIV from the body.

However, with medical support, including a treatment called antiretroviral therapy, it’s possible to manage HIV and live with the virus for many years. Without prior treatment, a person with HIV is likely to develop a serious condition called the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, called AIDS.

In the end, the immune system is too weak to successfully respond to other diseases, infections and conditions.

What is AIDS?

AIDS is a set of symptoms (or syndrome) that occurs when the body’s immune system is badly damaged because of the HIV virus. It is the most advanced stage of HIV.

Healthy adult people generally have a CD4 count of 500 to 1600 per cubic millimeter. A person with HIV positive whose CD4 count falls below 200 per cubic millimeter will be diagnosed with AIDS.

Is HIV different to AIDS?

HIV is a virus that passed from person to person. Over time, HIV destroys an important kind of cell in your immune system (known as CD4 cells or T cells) that helps protect you from infections. When you don’t have enough of these CD4 cells, your body can’t fight against the infections.

AIDS is a disease that can cause by the damage that HIV does to your immune system. You have AIDS when you get dangerous infections or have a super low number of CD4 cells. AIDS is the last stage of HIV and it leads to death overtime.

Without prior treatment, it usually takes about 10 years for someone with HIV to develop AIDS. Better treatment can reduce the effects of the virus and can help people stay healthy for several decades.

Symptoms of HIV and AIDS

Primary infection (acute HIV)

Acute HIV is the initial stage of HIV and it lasts until the body has created antibodies against the virus. Acute HIV develops a flue like illness within two to four weeks after the virus enters the body. It’s also known as primary (acute) HIV infection, may last for few weeks. Possible signs and symptoms include:-

  • fever
  • headache
  • muscle aches and joint pain
  • diarrhea
  • weight loss
  • cough
  • night sweats etc.

Clinical latent infection (Chronic HIV)

In this infection period, HIV is still present in the body and in white blood cells. However, most people may not have any symptoms or infections during this time. This stage can last for many years if you are not receiving antiretroviral therapy. Some people develop more severe diseases much sooner.

Symptomatic HIV infection

In this stage, immune cells in your body that help fight off germs and you may develop mild infections or chronic signs and symptoms such as:-

  • fever
  • fatigue
  • diarrhea
  • weight loss
  • pneumonia etc.

Progression to AIDS

Finally, when AIDS occurs, your immune system has been severely damaged. You will be more likely to develop opportunistic infections that wouldn’t usually cause illness in a person with a healthy immune system. The signs and symptoms of these infections may include:-

  • sweats
  • chills
  • recurring fever
  • diarrhea
  • weakness
  • weight loss
  • skin rashes etc.

When to see a doctor

If you think you may have been infected with the HIV virus or are at risk of contracting the virus, see a doctor as soon as possible.

Prevention

  • Use condoms
  • Get tested
  • Limit your number of sexual partners
  • Tell your sexual partners if you have HIV
  • Use a clean needle
  • If you’re pregnant, get medical care right away