Many people confuse AIDS and HIV. In simple terms, HIV is a virus which can lead to a condition called AIDS.
To make things more confusing, it’s relevant mentioning that AIDS is also known as stage 3 HIV. There was a time, not long ago, when the detection of either AIDS or HIV was synonymous to death. Medical research has improved significantly since then allowing patients to detect HIV earlier on, giving them the ability of leading a productive life. Anti-retroviral treatment is specially designed for these patients to improve their life expectancy.
The HIV virus gradually destroys the body’s immune system. HIV is the abbreviated form of human immunodeficiency virus. Only human beings can contract this virus. Our immune system is capable to clear away many viruses from our body; however, it cannot battle with HIV as it is completely different. The latest breakthroughs in medicine make it possible to control HIV by interrupting the life cycle of the virus.
The HIV virus leads to an infection called AIDS. HIV is the cause and AIDS is the effect. AIDS is the shortened form of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. If you contract the HIV virus, it may lead you to the condition (or development of) called AIDS.
AIDS (also known as stage 3 HIV) develops when your immune system is already badly damaged by the HIV virus. Patients develop different infections as a result of their damaged immune system. Symptoms of AIDS are related to the infections that the patient develops; therefore, the symptoms of AIDS vary from case to case. The infections that an AIDS patient develops are called opportunistic infections and they include pneumonia and tuberculosis. Even certain types of cancer are more likely to develop at this stage when one’s immune system is down and it can no longer work at its optimum efficiency.
Not every HIV case progresses to stage 3. In fact, there are plenty of examples where a person detected with AIDS lives a healthy lifestyle without developing AIDS. On the other hand, a person detected with AIDS is already infected with HIV.
It is important to note that whether an HIV-infected person develops AIDS or not, the HIV infection never goes away from his/her body. This is because there’s no cure for HIV.
Just like any other virus, HIV is easily transmitted from person to person. In contrast to this, a person acquires AIDS only after he or she’s contracted with HIV.
HIV transmission occurs through the exchange of body fluids including blood transfusion. Having penetrative sex without a condom and sharing of needles are two major ways for HIV transmission. The virus can also get transmitted from a mother to her child in the womb during pregnancy or through breastfeeding after birth.
The HIV virus is likely to create symptoms similar to flu, about 2 to 4 weeks post transmission. This tiny time period is called acute infection. The body’s immune system fights against this problem and cures it. As already mentioned before, our immune system is not capable to eradicate the HIV virus; however, it is certainly efficient enough to hold back the virus from playing its vicious role for a long time. This latency period can last for years. During this time, the HIV infected individual may not show any symptom at all; however, if that patient isn’t treated with antiretroviral therapy, he/she may succumb to the condition of AIDS in course of time.
When a person is transmitted with HIV, his/her immune system produces antibodies. A saliva or blood test can determine the presence of the HIV virus by detecting those antibodies in the pathological samples. It usually takes several weeks after the transmission of HIV to detect the antibodies in one’s blood or saliva.
When HIV affects one’s system, the virus produces certain antigens. A test for detecting those antigens also determines the HIV contraction in a person. This test detects the presence of HIV in the body faster than the test for antibodies.
Both of these tests provide reliable results and are widely performed by the medical fraternity in the UK.
AIDS develops at the later stages of the HIV infection. Detection or diagnosis of AIDS isn’t as easy as the HIV diagnosis.
The HIV infection destroys the immune cells in the body (also called CD4 cells). One way to diagnose AIDS is to count the CD4 cells in a patient. A normal person has about 500 to 1,200 CD4 cells in the body. This count drops down to 200 and below when the individual develops stage 3 HIV or AIDS.
Presence of opportunistic infections is another signal that a person has developed AIDS. These infections are results of various viruses, fungi and bacteria attacks. These attacks would’ve been easily repelled if the affected person didn’t have a damaged immune system.
If an HIV infection develops to stage 3 HIV (or AIDS), life expectancy of the infected individual suddenly drops to a great extent. Reversing the damage to the immune system at this stage is almost impossible. A patient becomes vulnerable to various infections and medical conditions including certain types of cancer when an HIV infection develops to AIDS.
At this stage, successful administering of antiretroviral therapy proves helpful to stretch the life expectancy of patients. Research on HIV and AIDS prevention has improved significantly in the last decade. As a result, treatments are available that prevent HIV contraction from developing into AIDS.
The antiretroviral treatment lowers the risk of transmitting the deadly virus to one’s spouse or partner.
As a reliable and popular Sexual Health Clinic in London, we’ve handled many cases at our Medical Express Clinic over the years. Given our in-depth experience, we can assure people with HIV can live for a long time without developing any symptom of AIDS or that of any other opportunistic infection. More and more effective treatment options are gradually coming up. These modern treatments also reduce the chance of passing on the virus to others.
The treatment must be started as early as possible to ensure that the patient gets the best possible results for his/her situation.. Consciousness is very helpful to restrict the transmission of the virus. Unknowingly, people pass on the virus to others mostly through unprotected penetrative sex, breast feeding and blood transfusion.