The Effects of HIV/AIDS


3.1 What’s the difference between HIV and AIDS?
3.2 How is HIV transmitted?
3.3 How does HIV affect the immune system?

3.1 What’s the difference between HIV and AIDS?

HIV/AIDS is often written and referred to as one word with one meaning.  But HIV and AIDS have two different meanings.

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This is the virus that can cause AIDS. If you have been infected with HIV you are said to be HIV-positive.

This means that HIV has entered your bloodstream. At the moment, there is no cure for HIV and the virus will always remain in your blood.

However, it is important to remember that many people who are HIV-positive look and feel healthy.

AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. AIDS is rarely one disease but rather a group or combination of illnesses that develop because the body can no longer fight disease as it normally would.  Once in the blood HIV attacks and slowly destroys the immune system that the body uses to fight infection and disease. Over a period of time (often many years), the immune system becomes weaker.  Only when an HIV-positive person  is diagnosed with one or more of these  illnesses is he or she said to have AIDS.

HIV is the virus that  is transmitted from one  person to another if it is able  to get  into the  bloodstream. AIDS is the sickness that develops over time as a result of being infected with HIV. You cannot ‘catch’ AIDS or ‘give’ AIDS to another person, but you can transmit HIV. If you have been told that you are HIV-positive it means you have been infected with HIV. It does not necessarily mean that you have AIDS. Treatments now available cannot cure HIV but may delay the development of AIDS for many years.

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