HIV

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Is there a difference between HIV and AIDS?

1.1 Million People

Sometimes people confuse HIV and AIDS because they are often used interchangeably in conversation. However, HIV and AIDS are two different diseases. HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is a viral infections that can lead to AIDS, or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. There are medications to help treat the symptoms of HIV and can even help prevent AIDS.

Will HIV always lead to AIDS?

Usually, within 8 to 10 years, HIV progresses to AIDS. However, with early detection and effective treatment, the progression to AIDS can be prevented, or at least slowed. For this reason, we recommend getting tested for HIV often, to make sure you can catch the disease and take action before it's too late.

HIV is a virus that attacks the CD4 cells in the body. CD4 cells are cells in the immune system that help the body stay healthy and fight infections. When these cells are infected with HIV, they are no longer able to do their job, and eventually die. When enough of these CD4 cells have been killed by HIV, a person's immune system is too weak to protect even against simple infections like the common cold or a paper cut. At this stage, an HIV patient is diagnosed with AIDS.

What are the symptoms of HIV and how is it spread?

HIV may transmitted two different ways: through contact with infected blood and sexual activity. Contact with infected blood can occur during needle sharing activities, accidental needle sticks, organ donations, or blood transfusions. HIV can also be spread through all forms of sexual activity, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex. HIV can also be spread from mother to child during pregnancy or childbirth. 

Symptoms of HIV often include: fever, skin rash, sore throat, swollen lymphnodes, fatigue, muscle soreness. Since these symptoms are very general symptoms that can be confused for other common illnesses, we encourage people to test often. Testing is the only way to be completely sure you have not contracted HIV.

What happens when HIV turns into AIDS?

During the early stages of HIV, there may be a period where the patient does not experience any symptoms. But even though there are no visible symptoms, HIV is still attacking the cells in the body and weakening the immune system. When enough of these cells have been attacked and killed, the immune system becomes too weak to function. This is when AIDS has developed.

AIDS & opportunistic infections

When the number of healthy CD4 cells drops below 200 cells per milliliter of blood, patients can be diagnosed with AIDS. This gives way for opportunistic infections. These infections, like tuberculosis, pneumonia, and other bacterial or fungal infections, generally do not affect individuals with healthy immune systems. At this point, the patient's immune system is so weak, that even the smallest of infections can prove deadly.

HIV/AIDS facts and stats

1.1 Million

According to the CDC, more than 1.1 million people are living with HIV in the U.S. today.

2 of 3

Of the 47,500 new cases of HIV in 2010, the CDC estimates that two thirds of these new infections happened in gay and bisexual men.

12%

From 2008 to 2010, the CDC reported that the number of new HIV infections increased by 12% in men who have sexual contact with men.

1.1 Million

According to the CDC, more than 1.1 million people are living with HIV in the U.S. today.

2 of 3

Of the 47,500 new cases of HIV in 2010, the CDC estimates that two thirds of these new infections happened in gay and bisexual men.

12%

From 2008 to 2010, the CDC reported that the number of new HIV infections increased by 12% in men who have sexual contact with men.

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