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Oct 05, 2023 | Miss Malini | HIV
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) are two terms that are heard often, but they are not the same thing. While they are closely related, the only difference is when HIV infection is left untreated that progresses into AIDS.
HIV is treatable by taking lifelong ART medications which are available at Government and Private Health care facilities.
HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, specifically the CD4 cells (immunity cells), which help the body fight off infections. HIV is transmitted through contact with certain bodily fluids, including blood, semen, vaginal fluids, anal fluids, and breast milk. HIV can be transmitted through sexual contact, sharing needles or syringes with an infected person, or from parents to unborn child during childbirth or breastfeeding. When a person becomes infected with HIV, they may be asymptomatic for years. Regardless of symptoms, the virus continues to replicate in the body, gradually weakening the immune system. Getting tested regularly is the only option.
AIDS, on the other hand, stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. It is not a virus but a syndrome, which is a collection of symptoms and diseases. AIDS is the advanced stage of HIV infection and occurs when the immune system becomes severely damaged. Specifically, AIDS is diagnosed when a person's CD4 cell (immunity cells) count falls below a certain threshold or when they develop specific opportunistic infections or cancers.
Unlike HIV, AIDS is not transmitted from person to person. It is the result of untreated or inadequately treated HIV infection. People with AIDS are more susceptible to a wide range of opportunistic infections, including tuberculosis, pneumonia, and certain types of cancers, which their weakened immune systems struggle to combat.
The transition from HIV to AIDS is not immediate. It can take several years for an untreated HIV infection to progress to AIDS. However, with advances in medical treatments and antiretroviral therapy (ART), many people living with HIV can prevent the development of AIDS altogether or delay its onset indefinitely.
ART is a combination of medications that effectively suppress the duplication of the virus, allowing the immune system to recover and preventing further damage. When HIV is well-managed with ART, the progression to AIDS is effectively stopped, and individuals can live long and healthy lives.
Key Differences between HIV and AIDS in a snapshot: