HIV and AIDS are usually used interchangeably to mean the same thing but in the real sense the two words mean something totally different. The two words are used to differentiate the different stage of the disease. HIV is a disease that attacks and weakens the entire immune system of a human being. The virus has a number of infectious agent. They include parasites, yeast infections and bacteria.
AIDS is the name given to the HIV disease when it is at an advanced stage. It’s a point in which the disease has progressed considerable and the entire human immune system is completely weakened. When the body is weakened, it is more susceptible to diseases that it could have otherwise fought off more easily. When a person begins to experience all the symptoms together, he is considered to have developed AIDS. A person who is infected with HIV does not necessarily have AIDS.
The HIV virus doesn’t immediately become AIDS. Once an individual is infected it normally will turn into full blown AIDS after several years without the person getting treatment. The period varies in individuals due to such factors such good health and a strong immune system. Most people normally die to opportunistic infections and diseases such as cancer which are brought about by the weakened immune system due to the HIV attacks.
HIV is an acquired virus as opposed to other illnesses which are hereditary or genetic. It is normally transmitted from a person who is infected to a healthy person through unprotected sex, blood, sharing needles, breast milk or rectal fluids.
AIDS is usually diagnosed based one or more opportunistic infections or on a CD4 cell count. The first stage is the acute stage of HIV the second stage is the clinical latency stage. A healthy person has a CD4 cell count of about five hundred to one thousand six hundred cells per cubic millimetre of blood. People with HIV are considered to have developed AIDS when their CD4 cell count drops to a low of two hundred cells.
If an individual does not get treatment, AIDS typically develops between two to fifteen years after infection with HIV. The rate at which the virus develops is solely dependent on factors such as general health, age, the presence of other infections and genetics.
Finally, in regard to of HIV terminologies, you can refer to yourself as a person living with HIV, a person living positively or seropositive. All these are terms used by people with HIV, regardless of their stage of infection.