HIV is one of the most widespread diseases in the world, but many people tend to misunderstand its characteristics and causes. Furthermore, sometimes people misuse the concepts of HIV and AIDS. It is crucial to know more about these diseases, symptoms, types of treatment, and possible consequences to protect your health and body.
This review will help you to understand the difference between HIV and AIDS and learn more about the reasons for its occurrence and how it influences the health system.
HIV is a virus that affects the immune system and consequently causes other diseases as the body’s immune system becomes too weak to resist other viruses. HIV influences the immune system because it damages CD4 cells, also called T cells which are immune system elements. The main difficulty for medical treatment is that HIV becomes a part of DNA. That is why there is still no treatment for this disease that can eliminate HIV from the body.
There are several ways a person can get HIV with transmission through:
- Breast milk;
- Rectal and vaginal fluids.
Thus, there is no need to be worried about usual contact with HIV-infected people. This immune system disease cannot be transmitted through water and air.
Even though no treatment exists to cure HIV fully, certain drugs which are parts of antiretroviral therapy can stop its development and make the life of an infected person normal for many years; however, if a person identifies HIV too late or does not apply this therapy the last stage of this disease develops — AIDS.
As we have said, HIV affects and damages CD4 cells. A healthy person has from 500 to 1,600 such cells per cubic millimeter in the body, but the decrease in the number of CD4 cells causes serious health problems. When this number falls to 200, a person is diagnosed with AIDS — Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.
Life expectancy becomes shorter with AIDS and reduces to 3 years in general. In some cases, this period can become even shorter if a person is infected with a severe opportunistic illness. Treatment can help to stop the development of AIDS, but if it is not applied at earlier stages of HIV, there are lower chances of prolonging the life of a person.
The following diseases may occur during AIDS condition as the body can no longer fight viruses:
- Cryptococcal meningitis;
- Oral thrush;
HIV Early Symptoms
Often people cannot distinguish early HIV symptoms because they are similar to common flu during the first acute infection stage.
The most common HIV symptoms at early and chronic stages are:
- Skin rash;
- Sore throat;
- Night sweats;
Having these symptoms for an extended period in case the person contacts HIV infected person in some of the described ways, it is required to visit a doctor and make an antigen or antibody HIV test.