What is HIV?
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is the virus that causes AIDS.A member of a group of viruses called retroviruses, HIV infects human cells and uses the energy and nutrients provided by those cells to grow and reproduce.
What is AIDS?
AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. It is a disease in whichthe body’s immune system breaks down and is unable to fight off infections,known as “opportunistic infections,” and other illnesses that take advantage of a weakened immune system.When a person is infected with HIV, the virus enters the body and lives and multiplies primarily in the white blood cells. These are immune cells that normally protect us from disease. The hallmark of HIV infection is the progressive loss of a specific type of immune cell called T-helper, or CD4, cells. As the virus grows, it damages or kills these and other cells, weakening the immune system and leaving the person vulnerable to various opportunistic infections and other illnesses ranging from pneumonia to cancer. A person can receive a clinical diagnosis of AIDS, as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if he or she has tested positive for HIV and meets one or both of theses conditions:
How quickly do people infected with HIV develop AIDS?
In some people, the T-cell decline and opportunistic infections that signal AIDS develop soon after infection with HIV. But most people do not develop symptoms for 10 to 12 years, and a few remain symptom-free for much longer. As with most diseases, early medical care can help prolong a person’s life.
Courtesy of amfAR Aids Research
The following information if courtesy of amfARThe presence of one or more AIDS-related infections or illnesses; A CD4 count that has reached or fallen below 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood. Also called the T-cell count, the CD4 count ranges from 450 to1200 in healthy individuals.