Many times, we use the terms HIV and AIDS interchangeably which leads to grave confusion. Although they might appear the same health disease at first, many of you would be surprised to know that it is not the case in reality. Instead, they are the two sides of the same coin, each equipped with different causes, symptoms, and effects on the human body. In this blog, we will take a closer look at the intricate difference between HIV and AIDS.
Also Read: MSc Infectious Disease
This Blog Includes:
What is HIV?
Let us start with the basics first by discussing what is HIV:
- The full form of HIV is Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
- It is a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
- It affects the cells in the immune system of your body and gradually destroys them to make it impossible for the person to fight other diseases.
- Once your immune system is severely weakened, HIV can further lead to AIDS.
- Since it works backwards, HIV is also known as a retrovirus.
Also Read: What is the Full Form of NACO?
Causes of HIV
HIV is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can have different causes such as:
- It can be due to sharing used needles.
- An HIV-positive mother can pass on the infection to her child through pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- Unprotective sex is another common cause of HIV.
Also Read: Take the World AIDS Day Quiz!
Symptoms of HIV
Interestingly, a person can be infected with HIV without showing any of the general systems. This is why it is crucial to get tested as soon as you suspect anything wrong. On the other hand, here is a list of the common symptoms of HIV:
- Mouth sores
- Night sweats
- Muscle aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Sore throat
Stages of HIV
Here is an overview of the three stages of HIV:
Stage 1: Acute HIV
This is the first stage of HIV. During this initial stage, patients show common flu-like symptoms for a month or so. In most cases, these symptoms go away within a few weeks.
Stage 2: Chronic Stage
The second stage of HIV is known as the Chronic Stage or clinical latency. During this phase, a patient might be suffering from HIV without showing any such symptoms as mentioned before.
Stage 3: AIDS
AIDS is the final and most deadly stage of HIV. A patient reaches this stage when the HIV virus has weakened the immune system of the patient to an unanticipated extent. During this stage, the patient becomes prone to other deadly health issues such as cancer.
What does HIV do to a Person?
Have you ever wondered what HIV exactly does to a person to make things insufferable? Well, let’s get right into it:
- HIV infects the white blood cells of your immune system which are also known as helper T cells or CD4 cells.
- It continuously attacks and destroys your T cells which subsequently leads its count to drop at an unprecedented rate.
- As a result, your immune system becomes weak and unable to fight general infections.
- Interestingly, patients with HIV show numerous flu-like symptoms which help the infection hide for a long without being noticed.
What is AIDS?
- The full form of AIDS is Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
- AIDS refers to the most severe and final stage of an HIV infection in humans.
- People suffering from this disease usually have fewer white blood cells and weaker immune systems than normal patients.
- Additionally, they might also be vulnerable to other diseases that accompany AIDS in a person.
Causes of AIDS
AIDS is generally caused by HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus. However, it can have other causes such as:
- Sexual contact with an HIV-infected person
- Sharing used needles
Also Read: What is the Causative Germ for AIDS?
Symptoms of AIDS
Below we have jotted down a list of the most commonly occurring symptoms in patients dealing with AIDS:
- Recurring fever
- Weight loss
- Extreme weakness
- Swollen lymph glands
- Skin rash
Difference Between HIV and AIDS: An Overview
Let us sum up everything discussed in this article in a simple manner:
|Human Immunodeficiency Virus
|Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
|Unprotected sex, non-sterile needles, breastfeeding, etc.
|HIV causes AIDS.
|Mouth sores, fatigue, muscle aches, chills, etc.
|Diarrhea, weight loss, skin rash, fever, etc.
|Blood tests to detect HIV
|A sudden decrease in the number of white blood cells.
|HIV transmits through blood, semen, and other fluids.
|AIDS cannot be transmitted from one person to another.
|Antiretroviral therapy (ART)
|No cure as of now, Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) can help.
Among others, the major difference between HIV and AIDS is that the HIV virus attacks the immune system. On the other hand, the term AIDS is used when HIV has severely injured the patient’s immune system.
Contrary to popular belief, an HIV-infected person can live as long as an HIV-negative person. However, the answer to this question also depends on various factors such as being diagnosed within time, access to proper medical care, and effective treatment options.
A person infected with the HIV virus can become prone to and ultimately suffer from AIDS. however, a person cannot have AIDS without being diagnosed with HIV first.