HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) are related but distinct conditions: HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus):
Virus: HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, specifically targeting CD4 T cells, which play a crucial role in the body's ability to fight infections.
Transmission: HIV is primarily transmitted through contact with certain bodily fluids, such as blood, semen, vaginal fluids, rectal fluids, and breast milk. Common modes of transmission include unprotected sexual intercourse, sharing needles or syringes for drug use, and from mother to child during childbirth or breastfeeding.
Progression: HIV infection progresses in stages. Acute HIV infection occurs shortly after exposure and may present flu-like symptoms. Without treatment, the virus can progress to chronic HIV infection, which can last for years without causing AIDS. During this time, the virus continues to damage the immune system.
Treatment: Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is highly effective in suppressing HIV replication and slowing the progression of the disease. People living with HIV who adhere to their treatment can maintain healthy immune function and lead normal lives.
AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome):
Definition: AIDS is the advanced stage of HIV infection. It is diagnosed when the immune system becomes severely damaged, and the individual's CD4 cell count drops below a certain level or they develop specific opportunistic infections or cancers.
Symptoms: AIDS is characterized by the occurrence of severe illnesses and symptoms due to the weakened immune system. These can include opportunistic infections (such as tuberculosis and pneumonia), extreme weight loss, chronic diarrhea, and various cancers.
Progression: AIDS is the result of untreated or poorly managed HIV infection. It typically takes several years for untreated HIV to progress to AIDS, although the rate of progression can vary among individuals.
Treatment: There is no cure for AIDS, but with appropriate medical care, including antiretroviral therapy (ART) to control HIV, the progression to AIDS can often be prevented or delayed. People with AIDS may also receive treatment for opportunistic infections and other health issues.
HIV can lead to AIDS if left untreated or if treatment is not successful in controlling the virus.
Early detection of HIV and timely initiation of antiretroviral therapy are crucial for preventing the progression to AIDS.
With effective treatment and care, many individuals with HIV can lead long and healthy lives.
Prevention strategies, such as safe sex practices, access to clean needles for injection drug users, and the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), are essential for reducing new HIV infections.
HIV/AIDS awareness, education, and destigmatization are important aspects of addressing the epidemic and supporting those affected.
HIV/AIDS remains a global health challenge, and efforts continue to prevent new infections, improve access to treatment and care, and raise awareness about the virus and its impact on individuals and communities.
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