Difference Between HIV and AIDS

Difference Between HIV and AIDS

There are many diseases on earth today, but there are a few that were considered more dreadful than the others. Right from the onset of the discovery of this virus in Africa, it has managed to create such a scare around the world until it was contained. At that time, anyone who contracted it was said to be as good as dead seeing as there is no cure for it. Also, people living with it were stigmatized, ostracized, and quarantined till they pass.

Thank goodness for development and research, people living with this viral infection can live long and healthy lives if treated consistently with antiretroviral drugs. There is no cure for it yet, but there is hope for that. However, sensitization for this infection is still going on to help as many people as possible avoid contracting it and to know what to do if they actually contract it. On that note, let’s start with the question  what is the difference between HIV and AIDS?

But before we answer that question, let’s take a look at their meanings and how they are diagnosed. Understanding these things about the different stages of this infection will help you understand how to avoid it, their signs and symptoms, what to do if you have it, and how to treat anyone around you who may have it.

Definition of Hiv

HIV is a virus characterized basically by immune system deterioration. It is an acronym for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, and has different stages to it showing the difference between HIV and AIDS.

  • Stage 1 – Acute HIV Infection

This is the earliest stage of the infection and as well the most active as well. When someone first contracts this disease, it undergoes an incubation period of about a couple of weeks to a month before manifesting in the host. In most cases, the first symptom of this stage is usually flu. Others include rash, fever, headache, etc.

Referring to the question what’s the difference between HIV and AIDS? – you need to understand the earliest signs and the need to get tested. At this stage, the virus multiples at the highest rate possible and spreads throughout the body in a matter of months. At this point, it has become potent enough to fight the CD4 cells of the immune system, causing more manifestation of symptoms associated with the disease.

  • Stage 2 – Clinical Latency

This is the second stage of the difference between HIV and AIDS infection where there are fewer symptoms compared to the first one. As a matter of fact, it is almost impossible to detect any signs and symptoms at this level because they are very few or totally absent. There is still a high risk of transferring this infection from one person to another at this stage, and the virus continues to multiply, only at a low rate compared to the first stage.

What the difference between HIV and AIDS is with regard to this point is the fact that taking antiretroviral drugs (ART) at this point (or earlier) will stop every symptom related to the infection, and also stop it from progressing to the third and final stage. This clinical latency stage is also known as the Chronic or Asymptomatic stage.

Definition of Aids

AIDS is an acronym that stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, which the most threatening and most dangerous stage of the HIV infection. Before anyone gets to this stage, the person must have gone through the first two stages which are manageable and less severe.

The difference between AIDS and HIV at this stage is that the immune system of the host has been severely damaged to the point that the body cannot fight off any infections at all, no matter how little. This sort of infections is known as opportunistic infections – infections that are more severe in people with weakened immunity. Patients at this stage can still transfer the infection to other people if care is not taken.

In most cases, people with this type of infection have CD4 cells of less than 200 cells per mm3. This is one method of diagnosis. Another one is if the patient has some opportunistic infections. This is the most dangerous stage of them all, and can lead to death in 3 years or less, except the patient starts treatment.

HIV vs AIDS Comparison Table

There are a bunch of HIV and AIDS difference points you need to take note of to help in dealing with it. Here are some of those points and how they relate with the virus in their different stages.

Basis of Comparison HIV AIDS
Definition A virus spread through out the body which aims at attacking the CD4 cells and thereby breaking down the immunity of the body against diseases. The third stage of the HIV infection which is characterized by severe immune system damage and high occurrence of opportunistic infections.
Acronym Human Immunodeficiency Virus Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
Incubation period without treatment Develops to stage 3 within 10 years of contracting the virus without treatment Leads to death within 3 years of getting to stage 3 without treatment
Symptoms – Headache
– Muscle aches and joint pain
– Rash
– Fatigue
– Swollen lymph nodes — often one of the first signs of HIV infection
– Diarrhea
– Weight loss
– Sore throat and painful mouth sores
– Swollen lymph glands, mainly on the neck
– Fever
– Oral yeast infection (thrush)
– Shingles (herpes zoster)
– Recurring fever
– Chronic diarrhea
– Persistent white spots or unusual lesions on your tongue or in your mouth
– Persistent, unexplained fatigue
– Weight loss
– Skin rashes or bumps
– Soaking night sweats

Conclusion of the Main Difference Between HIV vs AIDS

The table above pretty much answers the question what’s the difference between AIDS and HIV? A lot of times, people tend to assume that the symptoms are the same, but this is not the case as you can see. There are a number of similarities, but there are a few things that are not the same in the different levels of the viral infection.

Aside from knowing the difference between HIV positive and AIDS, it is also important to know how one can avoid the virus. Here are a few tips on how to do that.

  • Do not have unprotected sex
  • Use clean sharp objects for injections and incisions on the body
  • Tell your sexual partner if you have HIV
  • Talk to a doctor if you are HIV positive and pregnant to avoid transmitting it to your unborn baby
  • Get tested and know your partner’s status
  • Stick to one sex partner