Redcorner Women Clinic

We're non judgmental, understanding & competent in abortion services

header photo

What Is The Difference Between HIV and AIDS? | AIDS Management

The terms HIV and AIDS are often used interchangeably, but they don’t necessarily mean the same thing. The main difference is in definition, HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus, so HIV is just the name for a virus. On the other hand, AIDS stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome, which makes AIDS an actual disease.

As HIV is the virus that destroys the immune system, AIDS, on the other hand is the final stage of HIV, characterized by the appearance of different signs and symptoms. Signs and symptoms of HIV/AIDS vary from one person to other, because they tend to develop from opportunistic infections.

How are HIV and AIDS related?

The HIV attacks the human immune system, causing the body to be unable to defend against other forms of viruses and bacteria. When a person has HIV, their immune systems keep getting weaker and is unable to defend the body against even the mildest pathogens. It is at this stage that the person is considered to have AIDS because the immune system has already been depleted.

Even though you might have HIV infection, it does not mean that you will need AIDS management any time soon. In many cases it requires years for AIDS to develop, especially nowadays with advanced treatment, infected people can live longer before developing AIDS.

Differences of HIV and AIDS

HIV is the virus known as human immunodeficiency virus, affecting the immune systemAIDS stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome. It is a condition which develops from an infection with HIV
The period from an HIV infection until the development of AIDS varies from one person to the other. Today with advanced ART therapy, people may live for years without developing AIDS. Sometimes AIDS will not develop at all.If you have developed AIDS this means that you have an HIV infection. The period from an HIV infection to the development of AIDS varies from one person to the other.
HIV is transmitted from one person to the other through sexual intercourse and exchange of body fluids like blood, breast milk or semen.You can’t get AIDS from another person. However, remember that you can get infected with HIV from another person which can lead to the development of AIDS.
In general, 2 to 4 weeks after the infection, flu – like symptoms will appear. However, they will disappear quickly, followed by an asymptomatic period.People who develop AIDS usually have several different symptoms of AIDS
HIV is detected with the help of anti – HIV antibodies.To analyze if the infection has developed into AIDS, the CD4+ T-cell count is measured.


Symptoms of HIV vs. AIDS

HIV only attacks the immune system, so there are no noticeable symptoms when a person has the virus. In most cases, the individual will only experience flu-like symptoms after contracting the virus, which happens around 2- 4 weeks after the infection.

However, once the body develops AIDS, it is prone to infections from any pathogen the person is exposed to. In fact, those with AIDS do not suffer directly from the condition, but rather from the diseases that take advantage of the weakened immune system. The most common diseases that affect people with AIDS include pneumonia and tuberculosis as well as other diseases.

Tuberculosis is especially common in those with AIDS because the TB virus is almost as common as the flu, but a healthy immune system is usually capable of fighting off the virus. Therefore, the symptoms of AIDS will vary from one person to the next because the symptoms will be of a particular disease the individual is exposed to.

How Long Does It Take AIDS to Develop?

HIV is acquired through sexual contact or by sharing bodily fluids with an already infected person. A mother can also transmit the virus to their baby during birth, but the virus cannot infect a baby in the womb because the placenta prevents transmission. HIV can also be transmitted through breastfeeding if the mother is HIV positive.

The immune system is unable to completely eliminate the virus, so eventually, the person will require AIDS management. However, the time it takes before a person has full-blown AIDS due to HIV varies widely, and the virus can remain latent for months and even years before developing into AIDS. There have also been cases of ‘carriers’ who can have the virus for decades without it developing into AIDS.

AIDS Management and Diagnosis

Tests for HIV are done by measuring specific antibodies produced by the body against the virus, or by looking for antigens produced by the virus. To determine if there is AIDS, though, a check of immune cells called CD4cells is necessary. Normally, these cells range from 500 – 1,200 in number, but this number drops below 200 if the HIV has developed into AIDS.

Management of HIV is easy with the use of ARVs, and the individual can survive for years and even decades without symptoms. However, AIDS management difficult to maintain because it is impossible to repair the immune system cells at that point. Besides, the individual becomes prone to opportunistic infections which can sometimes be fatal.

Go Back