What Differentiate Hiv & Aids: Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

What Differentiate Hiv & Aids: Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

What Differentiate Hiv & Aids: Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

What Differentiate AIDS & HIV: Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention.


While 1.2 million Americans currently live with AIDS, the incurable disease is no longer a death sentence and has become a chronic, manageable condition.

The introduction of protease inhibitor drugs in 1996 was a game changer in the treatment of the disease, and now with early treatment, people with AIDS can live about as long as those without the disease, said Dr. Alysse Wurcel, an infectious disease specialist at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.

What Is HIV?

HIV is a virus that damages the immune system. The immune system helps the body fight off infections. Untreated HIV infects and kills CD4 cells, which are a type of immune cell called T cells.

According to NIAID, HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids that include:

  • Blood.
  • Semen.
  • Vaginal and rectal fluids.
  • Breast milk.

The virus is not a airborne diseases, and doesn’t spread in air or water, or through casual contact. Although many scientists are working to find complete cure for this virus. However, with medical care, including treatment called antiretroviral therapy, it’s possible to manage HIV and live with the virus for many years.

Without treatment, a person with HIV is likely to develop a serious condition called AIDS. At that point, the immune system is too weak to fight off other diseases and infections. HIV can cause changes throughout the body.

Thought HIV is different from other diseases in that there is still a stigma linked with it. People with HIV may be afraid to let others know they have the disease because they’re concerned about being treated differently by friends or facing discrimination at work.

What Is AIDS?

AIDS is a disease that can develop in people with HIV. It’s the most advanced stage of HIV. But just because a person has HIV doesn’t mean they’ll develop AIDS.

HIV kills CD4 cells. Healthy adults generally have a CD4 count of 500 to 1,500 per cubic millimeter. A person with HIV whose CD4 count falls below 200 per cubic millimeter will be diagnosed with AIDS.

A person can also be diagnosed with AIDS if they have HIV and develop an opportunistic infection or cancer that’s rare in people who don’t have HIV. An opportunistic infection.

Untreated, HIV can progress to AIDS within a decade. There’s no cure for AIDS, and without treatment, life expectancy after diagnosis is about three years. This may be shorter if the person develops a severe opportunistic illness. However, treatment with antiretroviral drugs can prevent AIDS from developing.

If AIDS does develop, it means that the immune system is weakened to the point where it can no longer fight off most diseases and infections. That makes the individual vulnerable to a wide range of illnesses, including:

  • Pneumonia,
  • Tuberculosis,
  • Oral thrush, a fungal infection in the mouth or throat,
  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV), a type of herpes virus,
  • Cryptococcal meningitis, a fungal infection in the brain,
  • Toxoplasmosis, a brain infection caused by a parasite,
  • Cryptosporidiosis, an infection caused by an intestinal parasite,
  • Cancer.

The Beginning To AIDS Epidemic

While I was growing up, I was told a story by an elderly man who was not fully aware of how aids started, thought some of the things he said about aids was right. According to him. Aids was a sexual transmited disease contated from animals. He said those who engaged in sex with dogs and other animals brought the were about of this disease. If you have heard similar of such story. May be it a lesser truth.

Aids epidemic didn’t start in Los Angeles or San Francisco as most thinks. The spread of the disease also probably began a decade or more before the medical community clearly identified it in the early 1980s. And an airline employee was unfairly vilified as “Patient Zero” in the AIDS epidemic in the United States.

Those are some of the conclusions in two comprehensive reports released by researchers at the University of Arizona and the University of Cambridge in England in 2016.

The findings, published in the journal Nature, shed new light on the beginning of the HIV crisis in North America more than three decades ago.

From the research, the scientists concluded the AIDS virus traveled from its origins in Africa to islands in the Caribbean. From there, it migrated to New York as early as 1970, where it spread rapidly.

“In New York City, the virus encountered a population that was like dry tinder,” Worobey explained, “causing the epidemic to burn hotter and faster and infecting enough people that it grabs the world’s attention for the first time.”

The virus then traveled to San Francisco and other parts of California, where people with AIDS were first recognized in 1981.

The researchers concluded that by the late 1970s, the virus had diversified in almost the same genetic diversity we see today.

The ‘Patient Zero’ Myth

For decades, a French-Canadian airline employee named Gaetan Dugas, has been known as “Patient Zero” in the 1980s AIDS epidemic.

Dugas, a man who had sex with men (MSM), died in 1984. Since then he has been blamed by some as a primary source for the spread of HIV in North America.

Dugas was one of the primary villains in the 1987 book, “And the Band Played On,” by San Francisco journalist Randy Shilts.

However, the researchers now say Dugas was falsely accused and unfairly blamed. “Gaetan Dugas is one of the most demonized patients in history, and one of a long line of individuals and groups vilified in the belief that they somehow fueled epidemics with malicious intent,” said Richard McKay, D.Phil., a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow in Cambridge’s Department of History and Philosophy of Science, in a press release.

In fact, McKay says, Dugas actually provided scientists with valuable information before he died.

Dugas told researchers after he contracted HIV that he had 750 sexual partners the previous three years. That wasn’t necessarily an unusual number. Researchers said 65 percent of men in a Los Angeles cluster study at the time reported having more than 1,000 sexual partners in their lifetimes.

Much of that sexual connection was with anonymous partners, so many HIV patients couldn’t give medical officials any names. However, McKay says, Dugas provided medical officials with 72 names. That helped scientists track down a wide range of people infected with HIV.

“In many ways, the U.S. AIDS crisis was no different — as the vilification of Patient Zero shows. It is important to remember that, in the 1970s, as now, the epidemic was driven by individuals going about their lives unaware they were contracting, and sometimes transmitting, a deadly infection.”

Symptoms Of HIV & AIDS

To develop AIDS, a person has to have contracted HIV. But having HIV doesn’t necessarily mean that someone will develop AIDS.

When a person is first exposed to HIV, they may not show symptoms for several months or longer. However, they may experience a flu-like illness two to four weeks after becoming infected. People in this early stage of infection have a large amount of HIV in their blood and are very contagious, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This early illness is often followed by a “latency” phase, in which the virus is less active and no symptoms may be present, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Although symptoms may be absent, people can still transmit HIV to others during this stage.

Left untreated, HIV infection will progress into AIDS, which severely damages the immune system. A weakened immune system makes it harder for the body to fight off other diseases, such as cancer, liver disease, cardiovascular disease and kidney disease, according to the CDC.What Differentiate Hiv & Aids: Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

According to the UCSF Medical Center, HIV and AIDS may cause the following symptoms:

  • Rapid weight loss or “wasting.”
  • Extreme fatigue.
  • Dry cough.
  • Recurring fevers or profuse night sweats.
  • Swollen lymph glands in the armpits, groin or neck.
  • Prolonged diarrhea.
  • Sores in the mouth or bleeding from the genitals or anus.
  • Pneumonia.
  • Blotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose or eyelids.
  • Depression, memory loss and other neurological effects.

In addition, cases of HIV progress through three stages:

  • stage 1: Acute stage, the first few weeks after transmission.
  • stage 2: Clinical latency, or chronic stage.
  • stage 3: AIDS.

As HIV lowers the CD4 cell count, the immune system weakens. A typical adult’s CD4 count is 500 to 1,500 per cubic millimeter. A person with a count below 200 is considered to have AIDS.

How quickly a case of HIV progresses through the chronic stage varies significantly from person to person. Without treatment, it can last up to a decade before advancing to AIDS. With treatment, it can last indefinitely.

There is no cure for HIV, but it can be controlled. People with HIV often have a near-normal lifespan with early treatment with antiretroviral therapy. Along those same lines, there’s technically no cure for AIDS. However, treatment can increase a person’s CD4 count to the point where they’re considered to no longer have AIDS. (This point is a count of 200 or higher.) Also, treatment can typically help manage opportunistic infections.

Diagnosis & Tests

According to the CDC, three types of tests can confirm an HIV infection:

1. A NAT, short for nucleic acid testing, looks for the actual human immunodeficiency virus in the blood. But this expensive test is rarely used for routine screening.

2. An antigen/antibody test looks for HIV antibodies, which are proteins produced by the immune system after exposure to bacteria or viruses. The blood test also detects HIV antigens — foreign substances that activate the immune system.

3. The third type is an antibody test that looks for HIV antibodies in blood or oral fluid. These tests can be done with a kit at home and provide results usually within 30 minutes.

Another rapid HIV test, which may involve swabbing a person’s gums, is also available and offers results in about 20 minutes. A positive result on any HIV test should be confirmed with a second, follow-up test.

Treatments & Medications

While AIDS remains incurable, patients are living much longer — even decades after infection — because of the development of medications to suppress the virus.

The most effective treatment is known as antiretroviral therapy (ART), which has typically been a combination of at least three medications meant to prevent the patient from becoming resistant to any one drug.

ART can help slow the spread of the virus and lower its amount in the blood, which is known as the “viral load.” With daily treatment, that viral load may decrease so much that it becomes undetectable. A person with undetectable HIV can’t transmit the virus to their sex partners, even though HIV is still present in the person’s body.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the most common antiretroviral drugs fall into three categories:

  • Reverse transcriptase inhibitors, which keep the virus from reproducing.
  • Protease inhibitors, which interrupt the replication of the virus at a later step in the virus life cycle.
  • And, fusion inhibitors, which prevent the virus from entering and replicating in healthy cells.

Researchers are developing new treatments as alternatives to taking a daily pill, such as long-acting injectable HIV drugs given once a month or every few months.

Hiv & Aids Prevention

More than 56,000 Americans become infected with HIV each year, according to HHS. Preventing infection means avoiding behaviors that lead to exposure to the virus.

Prevention measures include:

  • Knowing your HIV status as well as your partner’s.
  • Using latex condoms correctly during every sexual encounter.
  • Limiting the number of sexual partners.
  • Abstaining from injectable drug use and never sharing needles or syringes.
  • Seeking treatment immediately after suspected HIV exposure, since newer medications known as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) may prevent infection if started early.

How To Support Your Mental Health With HIV?

People living with HIV are more likely to experience mental health conditions than others. Depression is one of the most common Trusted Source mental health conditions associated with HIV. Some signs of depression include:

  • Changes to your overall outlook.
  • Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy.
  • Withdrawal from the outside world, including your friends and family.
  • Changes in your sleep patterns or appetite.
  • Feeling sick and nothing helps you feel better.
  • Inability to focus or make decisions.
  • Feelings of guilt or low self-worth.
  • Fatigue or lack of energy.
  • Thinking about causing harm on yourself or others.

HIV can affect your emotional well-being for several reasons. This may be due to changes that occur within your body from the virus. Outside factors like stigma, relationships, and lack of resources can also contribute to mental health issues.

Here are few ways to take care of your mental well-being, which will help you manage your HIV as well.

1. Talk to your healthcare provider.

2. Seek counseling or cognitive behavioral therapy.

3. Talk to a family member or friend.

4. Join a support group.

5. Practice good self-care.

6. Practice mindfulness and other relaxation methods.

It’s important to be able to identify serious changes to your outlook and seek help if you live with HIV. Proper support can help you deal with the challenges you face while living with this condition.

Additional resources:

This article on "Hkitnob: Health Columns" is for informational purposes only, and is not meant to offer medical advice.