Difference Between HIV and AIDS


HIV AIDSHIV and AIDS are two interrelated medical terms. The difference between HIV and AIDS is AIDS is a disease called Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, which is caused by the HIV Virus (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). HIV virus destroys the cells in the human body that combat infections, making it unable to resist infection, this disease is known as AIDS.

HIV and AIDS are not just two words. They have the potential to damage the bedrock of humanity. HIV is the name of the virus in the immune system of a healthy man and attacks its T cells.

HIV virus, unlike other viruses, stays in the body of the person for a long time and makes his immune system so weak that he cannot fight other common infections known as OIs. Once a person acquires HIV, he becomes HIV+, and remains so all his life. This is the stage when the count of CD4, or white blood cells, goes below 200 and the person develops one or more common infections which his immune system is unable to ward off. This is the final stage of the disease and the person is said to be suffering from AIDS.

What is HIV?

In medical terms, HIV is called Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is so called because this virus attacks humans only and immunodeficiency because it attacks the healthy immune system and weakens it until the person is unable to ward off common infections. The healthy body has a system of fighting diseases through white blood cells, signified through a CD4 count. This count is 600-1200 in a healthy person. But HIV destroys this immune system and when CD4 count drops below 200, the person is rendered incapable of fighting even common infections.

If a person is HIV+, it does not necessarily mean that he has AIDS. It has been observed that it takes many years for HIV to progress to AIDS. With treatment, HIV remains under control. People who are HIV+ can hope to live a healthy life for many years if treated regularly.

Symptoms of HIV

  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Sore Throat
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Skin rashes

Causes of HIV

This is an acquired virus, and so a person can have HIV only through infected blood, semen or vaginal fluids. This virus does not spread through casual contact or even kissing. Unprotected sex, sharing infected needles and infected mothers passing the virus to babies during pregnancy are the main reasons of HIV.

Treatment of HIV 

Once HIV is diagnosed, it is treated with a combination of drugs known as highly active antiretroviral therapy or HAART.

What is AIDS?

As described earlier, the advanced stage of HIV is called AIDS. It is called a syndrome as a person afflicted with AIDS may have a wide range of diseases and many infections. These are diseases that a person develops over a period of time because of a progressively weakened immune system. As the person becomes very weak, he develops many infections which a normal person is easily able to ward off.

In layman’s terms, AIDS is an advanced stage of HIV. The opportunistic infections that may afflict a person who is HIV+ are memory loss, PCP or Pneumonia, KS or Kaposi Sarcoma, wasting syndrome or weight loss, or Tuberculosis.  AIDS takes time to develop and a person who is HIV+ may remain healthy for 2-10 years before he becomes a full blown case of AIDS. 

What is the difference between AIDS and HIV?

  • In medical terms, HIV is called Human Immunodeficiency Virus, which is the cause of AIDS
  • In layman’s terms, AIDS is an advanced stage of HIV