Difference Between HIV and AIDS

After know clean definition and explanation of HIV and AIDS, as well as the relationship between these two here, it’s also important to know how they are different because some of you might still be confused about it.

What’s the Difference Between HIV and AIDS?

Generally speaking, HIV is a virus while AIDS is a sexual disease caused by this virus, although it does not mean that anyone who has HIV in body will develop AIDS. Here is a summary of the differences between HIV and AIDS:




What is it?

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, as upon infection, human find that their immune system slowly starts to become ineffective.

AIDS stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome, and is the condition that develops after long-term HIV infection. Patients with AIDS have severely impaired immune systems, and are susceptible to infections, such as tuberculosis and pneumonia, as well as particular kinds of cancer.

Are HIV and AIDS always found together?

Today, because of ART therapy, most people with HIV infection live for many years before progressing to AIDS, or never develop AIDS at all.

Any individual who gets AIDS will already be infected with HIV.

How is it transmitted?

HIV is transmitted between people through the exchange of bodily fluids, such as blood, semen, and breast milk. This allows the spread of infection.

You cannot directly catch AIDS from someone; however you can contract HIV, which may progress to AIDS.

Are there any symptoms?

Around 2-4 weeks after initial infection, patients commonly experience flu-like symptoms, which disappear after a while. This is followed by a latent, asymptomatic phase.

When someone has progressed from HIV infection to AIDS, they will usually suffer from several different symptoms of AIDS [listed below].

How is it diagnosed?

A simple blood or saliva test can detect anti-HIV antibodies, indicating HIV infection. However, as there is a delay in the body’s production of these antibodies, the test may not be accurate   until a few weeks following infection. Fortunately, a new HIV antigen test can diagnose HIV only days after infection.

To analyze whether HIV has developed into AIDS, the patient’s CD4+ T-cell count is measured. If it is below a particular level, AIDS is diagnosed. Patients may also be considered to have AIDS if they have an AIDS-associated opportunistic infection.

What’s the prognosis?

Thanks to advanced HIV treatment, patients can live for many years without progressing to AIDS, and live relatively normally and healthily.

When someone has developed AIDS, their immune system has severely deteriorated, and will be hard to repair. Other infections are frequent, can cause death, and drastically reduce the patient’s life expectancy.

How to Know If You Are HIV-Positive?

The only way to determine for sure whether you are infected with HIV or not is to take a test. HIV tests are widely available and you can get one from your doctor, community or veterans’ health center, Title X family planning clinic, or other healthcare provider. If you prefer, you can use an FDA-approved home test kit.

How to Know If You Have AIDS--Symptoms of AIDS

The list of difference between HIV and AIDS is not complete without knowing the symptoms in different stages.

  • Stage One occurs 2-6 weeks after HIV exposure. Symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, muscle aches, sore throat, fever, and red non-itchy rash, last 1-2 weeks, and are due to the immune system’s initial defense against HIV.
  • Stage Two begins after the first symptoms have disappeared and the immune system stops fighting the infection. This phase can last over a decade and not produce any symptoms. However, the HIV is gradually destroying CD4+ T-cells, increasing the risk of other infections.
  • Stage Three or AIDS is diagnosed if there are under 200 CD4+ cells/mm3 of blood, or if the patient has an “AIDS-defining illness”, e.g. Pneumocystis pneumonia or Kaposi’s sarcoma. Other AIDS symptoms include night sweats, long-term fever, breathlessness, chronic diarrhea, lymph node swelling, weight loss, purple skin patches, bleeding, bruising, and yeast infections.

How Is HIV/ AIDS Transmitted?

Another difference between hiv and aids is their transmission mode. It’s not the AIDS that is transmitted, rather the HIV infection, which can then progress to AIDS. You can catch HIV infection from any other person who has the infection, even if they haven’t tested positive for the virus yet and appear healthy. HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids, including the blood, semen, vaginal fluid, and breast milk, all of which contain enough virus particles to allow another person to become infected.

The most common ways of acquiring HIV are through:

  • Sexual intercourse (either vaginal or anal) with an HIV-positive person
  • Needle-sharing (for intravenous drugs) with infected individuals
  • Transmission from mother to baby in pregnancy or labor, or when breastfeeding

A few years ago, blood transfusion was a common way of contracting HIV infection, but nowadays, donated blood is very thoroughly screened for infections, so the HIV risk from transfusion is miniscule. No cases of HIV transmission through saliva or tears have been documented. However, you may become infected through oral sex or, very rarely, by deep kissing, particularly if your gums are bleeding or you have open mouth sores.

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