HIV vs. AIDS – What’s the Difference?

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By Dr Ajay Kumar Pujala, General Physician

HIV is an infectious virus, on the other hand, AIDS is a medical condition caused by the HIV virus. One becomes infected with HIV virus without succumbing to AIDS and there are many people who survive for many years with HIV without getting affected with AIDS.

HIV is a Virus-

HIV, abbreviation of Human Immunodeficiency Virus, can spread infections on entering your body. The name itself describes the virus, which not only attacks the human body, but also impacts your immune system; so much so that it renders the whole system deficient. As a result, the immune system becomes unable to function as efficiently as it should.

AIDS is a Condition-

As stated above, HIV is a virus which can spread infection in your body, but AIDS on the other hand is defined as a syndrome or a condition. If a person becomes infected with the virus, then he/she may possibly develop AIDS at a later stage, if the condition is left untreated.

AIDS develops when the virus of HIV has severely affected a person’s immune system. It is a critical condition with symptoms that vary from one person to the other. The symptoms of AIDS are connected to the infection an individual develops as a consequence of a damaged immune system, which is unable to fight infections. Such infections are usually pneumonia, tuberculosis, cancer of some specific types and other bodily infections.

HIV without AIDS-

HIV is a virus and AIDS is the condition it may cause. You can have an HIV infection without acquiring AIDS. In fact, many people with HIV live for years without developing AIDS. Thanks to advances in treatment, you can live longer than ever before with an HIV infection.

While you can have an HIV infection without having AIDS, anyone diagnosed with AIDS already necessarily has HIV. Because there is no cure, the HIV infection never goes away, even if AIDS never develops.

Diagnosis of AIDS is more complicated as compared to HIV-

Since AIDS is the last stage of the HIV disease, it becomes more complicated to diagnose it as HIV annihilates the immune cells, known as the “CD4 cells”. Usually, a person is medically said to have developed AIDS once the count of these cells drops to 200 or below. While, on the other hand, a blood or saliva test can detect those antibodies and determine if you have been infected with HIV. This test may be effective only several weeks after infection, though. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a general-physician and ask a free question.