There has always been a big confusion between HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), but they are different. However, they go hand-in-hand. To know this difference is important to timely diagnose and understand how HIV and AIDS can be managed. To simplify the same, the HIV virus can lead to AIDS, which is also known as stage 3 HIV. To answer your queries here is Dr Anita Mathew - Senior Consultant, Physician & Infectious Disease Specialist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund to help us all understand the difference between HIV and AIDS.
Is HIV Or AIDS Still Considered Fatal? The solution to this is now positive, as in the past if anyone was detected with HIV or AIDS, it was considered fatal. However, all thanks to the research and development of new treatment options, people with HIV at any stage can live for a long time. An HIV-positive person who follows regular anti-retroviral treatment can live a near-normal life.
But before we understand the difference, it is important to understand the in individual terms.
What Is HIV?
HIV is a virus that directly attacks the immune system, and the term HIV is known as the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Only human beings can contract this virus due to which the body displays certain glitches in its performance as compared to a healthy body. Our immune systems can clear out many viruses in our bodies; however, the case is different with HIV. Medicines can control HIV successfully by interjecting its viral life cycle.
What Is AIDS?
On the other hand, AIDS can happen to those who have HIV. Those who are at stage 3 HIV are mostly diagnosed with AIDS, which means a lot of damage to the immune system. It is a complex issue with symptoms that differ from person to person. The stage 3 symptoms of HIV means a damaged immune system. In certain cases of Cancer, patients become more likely as the immune system does not perform as effectively as it should.
How Is HIV And AIDS Diagnosed?
Now that we have established the difference between the two terms, how can one diagnose the same? HIV can be diagnosed with a blood or saliva test. However, the diagnosis of AIDS is more complicated. Medical providers look for a few factors to determine if HIV has progressed to stage 3 HIV. Since HIV destroys the immune cells, the medical professional does a count of these cells to diagnose AIDS. When HIV develops into stage 3, the person’s life span reduces significantly. At this stage, it is very difficult to repair the damage done to the immune system. Other conditions like certain Cancers, resulting from severe immune system impairment are common. However, with successful timely treatment and immune system recovery, people with stage 3 HIV live long lives.
VIDEO: HIV Myths & Facts:
Facts About HIV And AIDS
Some essential facts about HIV that you must know are listed below:
- HIV May Show No Symptoms: HIV may have or show no symptoms for more than a decade on any person but can surely be transmitted to another person during that time.
- HIV, When Progresses To AIDs Can Show Symptoms: Did you know it is possible for HIV infected person to show no symptoms until it turns into AIDS. In such a case, the person may display symptoms like weight loss, fever, cough, diarrhoea, etc.
- HIV is Not Only A Gay Man’s Disease: Earlier, HIV was considered more of a gay man’s disease. However, as told by CDC, the use of injected drugs also drastically increases the risk of HIV in men and women equally.
- Cough and Shortness of Breath Are Symptoms: Those who are HIV positive should take a vaccine for preventing pneumonia as shortness of breath or persistent cough can be symptoms of HIV-led pneumonia. It is a known fact that HIV positive patients are prone to COPD.
- Depression Is Common Too: With the stigma and the lack of information about HIV and AIDS, most people who are suspected of HIV or AIDS are common to feel sad, discouraged, scared in facing the world. There could be various symptoms that can be clubbed under depression including insomnia, lack of hunger, need to be in social isolation, etc.
- HIV Does Not Happen Due To Hugging: It is myth that merely hugging can spread HIV. The fact is that HIV does not spread from sharing the glass, or from hugging someone. It is only possible to get HIV from someone when there is an unprotected contact with someone, or using the same needles.
- HIV Does Not Mean Death: In times when there is medicine or treatment of every disease possible, living with HIV is as possible as anything. A person with HIV can live for years together without actually knowing that they have any illness. However, one can prevent AIDS if they have HIV by regular following what the doctor says.
AIDS can only happen if someone has HIV, whereas those who have AIDS are sure to have contracted HIV. Having-said-that, an HIV infection doesn’t necessarily progress to stage 3. Many people with HIV live for years without developing AIDS. All thanks to the new treatment options for HIV infection, people can live with HIV and never have AIDS develop. It’s also important to note that successful anti-retroviral treatment and a sustained undetectable viral load greatly lowers the risk of transmitting the virus to a partner.
With inputs from Dr Anita Mathew - Senior Consultant, Physician & Infectious Disease Specialist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund
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