HIV and AIDS
The difference between HIV and AIDS
HIV and AIDS are terms that are regularly heard about when it comes to STDs. What do these abbreviations actually mean, and what’s the difference between HIV and AIDS? Many people in the UK die each year of AIDS-related illness – in 2015, for example, 594 people died as a result of AIDS. Read on and learn all about it here.
What does HIV mean?
HIV is the abbreviation for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, which reduces the effectiveness of the human immune system. It attacks your ability to break CD4 cells. These cells play an important role in the immune system. If the CD4 value is below 350, then treatment is required as the body becomes more susceptible to all kinds of diseases.
What does AIDS mean?
Aids stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, which means an ‘acquired disease that reduces the immune system’. AIDS basically means that the immune system is broken down leading you to contract other illnesses. Someone with AIDS, for example, might suffer from pneumonia or another serious condition as a result of their defective immune system.
What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?
If you have HIV, you have been infected with the HIV virus. You don’t have to have any symptoms. However, if the virus continues to grow, serious symptoms will eventually develop. The body will no longer be able to defend itself against foreign invaders such as bacteria, fungi, and other viruses. You will get sick faster and more often. This phase is called AIDS. Aids is actually the result of (untreated) HIV infection.
The symptoms of HIV and AIDS
An HIV infection usually progresses according to a certain pattern. Two to three months after infection, you may experience flu-like symptoms, such as fever and muscle aches. Then for a long time, nothing seems to be happening, but appearances are deceiving. Although no physical symptoms occur, the virus is rapidly expanding. This latent period may take a long time, even years. The problems only begin when the immune system is significantly affected. Possible symptoms of an advanced H.I.V. infection include:
– Weight loss;
– Persistent diarrhoea;
– Fatigue that will not go;
– Night sweats;
– Shortness of breath.
In the AIDS phase, the body can no longer defend itself against all kinds of diseases. What is a harmless infection for healthy people, can have very serious consequences for AIDS patients. For example, an ordinary cold can lead to pneumonia or other critical complications.
AIDS, therefore, leads inexorably to death if untreated. In Africa, in particular, many people die from AIDS because they are unable to access medication.
Can HIV and AIDS be cured?
In terms of healing, there is no difference between HIV and AIDS: these conditions are still incurable. However, the spread of the virus can be suppressed with medications; these are the so-called anti-retroviral drugs. These drugs cause the disease to come to a halt, thus preventing the AIDS phase. The sooner a patient starts taking HIV inhibitors, the better.
This not only ensures that the resistance of the patient remains stable, but also prevents further spread of the virus. The medication switches off the virus in such a way that it is no longer transferable. If a human immunodeficiency virus patient only starts taking the medication at a late stage – if the diagnosis has been made at a very late stage, for example – the immune system will already have been too badly compromised.