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240417 HIV_AIDs

What are the differences between HIV and AIDS and what is Antiretroviral Drug (ARV)?

Before we get into various types of ARVs, let us gain more understanding of the infection itself, as many people believe that if they have HIV, they have AIDS. So, what are the differences between HIV and AIDS?

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an infection that attacks the body’s immune system, specifically the white blood cells called CD4 cells, which protect the body from infection. HIV would, therefore, gradually weaken the immune system. However, the rate at which the immune system deteriorates will vary based on the infection’s severity and the immune system’s strength in the affected individual. This time frame will span roughly five to ten years.

AIDS is the late stage of HIV infection that occurs when the body’s immune system is badly damaged because of the virus (i.e., the immune system and white blood cells have been severely damaged, making them incapable of protecting the body from infection and other illnesses.) A CD4 count of 200 or fewer cells per cubic millimeter means that you have AIDS. With AIDS you have a high risk of developing complications or opportunistic infection (OI). OIs are common infections that are not harmful to normal people with strong immunity. However, OIs occur more frequently and are more severe in people with weakened immune systems, including people with HIV who are not under any medications or treatments and people with autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). People with AIDS are at greater risk of developing these illnesses because their immune systems have been destroyed to the point where their bodies can’t fight off germs anymore.

We may classify the differences between HIV and AIDS in three stages based on the symptoms and abnormalities, as follows:

  1. Stage 1: Primary infection (Acute HIV) is the initial stage of HIV infection, with flu-like symptoms or minor illnesses that normally resolve within the first 2-4 weeks of infection, such as sore throat, muscle aches, low fever, fatigue, minor weight loss, and watery stool. However, the virus multiples rapidly in this stage.
  2. Stage 2: Clinical latent infection (chronic HIV) is the stage where some patients start to show symptoms, such as sore throat, swollen lymph nodes (HIV lymphadenopathy), white lesions on the tongue or cheeks (oral thrush), drastic weight loss, and seborrheic dermatitis. At this stage, HIV continues to multiply to the point where it can be detected. However, at present, people with HIV at this stage receive ARVs, which allows them to live longer while remaining at this stage.
  3. Stage 3: Progression to AIDS is the final stage at which people infected have CD4 counts of less than 200 cells/mm3, significantly weakening the body’s immunity that their bodies can’t fight off germs anymore and leading to complications and OIs, especially on vital organs, such as tuberculosis (TB), cryptococcal disease, Lymphoma spreading over the body  and pneumonia.

Guidelines on HIV prevention

Anyone can get HIV, but you can take steps to protect yourself from HIV. Preventive actions are vital, either if you don’t want to be infected or to prevent you from spreading it to others.

  1. Always use a condom for sex.
  2. Use PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) or PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) to prevent infections.
  3. Never share needles or syringes with anyone. This case is common among drug users in injecting drugs into their veins.
  4. Avoiding risky sexual behaviors and limiting sexual partners. Get annual blood tests or health checkups, as well as pre-marital screening examinations.
  5. Exercise regularly and eat healthy food

People who are HIV-positive don’t always have AIDS. HIV is a virus, but AIDS is a condition caused by HIV that impairs the immune system. We can conclude that stages 1 and 2 of HIV infection are not AIDS. If the infection is diagnosed quickly via blood test, it can be treated with an ARV.

In the following article, Admin will discuss various ARVs for HIV.

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