What is the difference between HIV and AIDS? HIV is a human immuno-defiency virus that affects a human body’s immune system. It is incapable of reproducing by itself, thus it reproduces by taking over the human cell’s machinery while causing the immune system to work improperly. AIDS is an acquired immune deficiency syndrome. It is a condition acquired through infection that also makes the body’s immune system deficient. It is a syndrome because a wide range of diseases and other infections may be experienced by someone who has this. The difference, simply put, is that HIV is the virus responsible for causing a medical condition called AIDS.
AIDS is a syndrome that develops in the advanced stages of an HIV infection. HIV is often times being referred as the causative agent because AIDS cannot possibly develop without having an HIV infection. However, it is possible to remain HIV positive (infected with HIV) without developing AIDS.
How AIDS develops can be understood from knowing the four stages of an HIV infection. The first stage is called the window and it is the period after infection. HIV could be sexually transmitted or could be acquired from blood products. Unprotected sex, exposure to blood products that are contaminated, and needle sharing are common factors of HIV infection. During the first stage, the window of time in between infection and the development of a person’s antibodies are defined. These antibodies are what people look for in an HIV test.
The second stage of infection is called the seroconversion. The development of a lot of antibodies to combat the virus marks this stage. At the start of infection, the virus already begins to replicate in the bloodstream. Along with the replication process, the virus hijacks the T-cells of the body to disable them from functioning normally. Flu-like symptoms are experienced by a person in this period of infection. It is also during this stage that the virus tends to be very infectious.
The third stage is the symptom free period. People in this stage do not show any symptoms of the infection. Also, this period doesn’t have a distinct range of time. Some people may be in this stage for 6 months while others are able to go for as long as 10 years.
The last stage is when AIDS develops. It is during the progress of this infection that there is a probable development of AIDS. Tests during this stage will show the drastic decrease in the number of T-cells. And even during this stage, the HIV is still present in the patient’s body and is still very much infectious.