This is my responce to a blog I read about the difference between HIV and AIDS, feel free to comment on it. – Brian.
Here goes – HIV, the Human Immunodefiecency Virus is an actual Virus that infects people. Being HIV positive refers to a positive test result (typically the Western Blot test) in which results come back from your blood stating that your body has developed HIV antibodies; And based on the counts of antibodies per CC (cubic centimeter) of blood your viral loads (how much virus) is determined.
You would think that developing these HIV antibodies (cd8) are a good thing. In past viruses they are, however the HIV virus takes over and uses our Tcells (cd4) to reproduce. Under our bodies normal immune response Tcells (cd4) instruct all of our white blood cell antibodies (cd8) what infection, whether viral or bacterial, to destroy and protect our body.
Unfortunately, because HIV takes over the Tcell (cd4) and uses it to replicate; its alot like having a huge standing army(cd8 cells) with no Generals or Officers to lead them into battle. So our own developed antibodies do nothing to fight the HIV infection itself and any future infections like colds, flu, shingles, pneumonia etc. The HIV infection does not kill you, it facilitates a secondary infection that your body can't handle like pneumonia, your lungs fill with fluid and its over. Its a simple analogy but an effective one.
Now for AIDS (Aquired Immune Diffeciency Syndrome) and the problem with it. AIDS was named as a disease before anyone knew why it was happening (hence the HIV virus). AIDS, very simply put is a Doctors medical OPINION of the common conditions seen by medical professionals when infections are at the worst.
Keep in mind that the virus that causes AIDS was not identified by doctors untill 5 years later and even then the doctors could not agree that HIV was causing it. That is the reason why the requirements for diagnosis, (or medical opinion), of a physician differ around the world and country by country. However, it is Universally agreed now that an AIDS diagnosis is when a patients Tcells(cd4) drop below 200 ….AND there are at least TWO Opportunistic Infections.
An Opportunistic Infection or OI is just what it sounds like. They are infections that a normal healthy person would not have and are quite simply annoying. Fungus like Thrush in the mouth and tongue, and the Herpes virus like Shingles that we all have if we had chicken pox or the shot for it. The list for OI's is long and you can find them on most websites.
Viral Loads are looked at for management but are not a requirement for an AIDS diagnosis because viruses and the amount it takes to get different people sick differ between people. You will find that a great indicator of your actual health is the % (percentage) of cd4 to cd8 because your numbers like viral load and Tcells will fluctuate all the time due to life – but if the % is dropping, and especially near or below 14, you have real issues. Always ask your doctor about your percentages with your other counts.
Thats pretty much it. It is up to YOU to work WITH your doctor. Most doctors try to wait to prescribe medicine for HIV because there are 5 basic classes of drugs for HIV; even though there are now about 40 drugs given in “combinations” or “drug combo's”. They wait because the drugs can be harsh with undesirable side effects, and if you take them incorrectly you can develop resistance not only to that drug – but in some cases the whole class of drugs they are in. Then it gets much harder to control the HIV infection. Its alot to digest and I hope that it helps …….Oh and never, ever disregard your Doctor and what they say based on the internet or webblogs – but do get a second opinion from another qualified Physician! – Romeo

2 Comments
  1. Romeo 15 years ago

    Actually Act2vist, AIDS is the disease caused by the HIV virus according to JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association. That is how I was referring to the description of AIDS above. It is not a separate disease from HIV – it is the disease! However, it is common to describe the disease now as a combination written as HIV/AIDS.

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  2. Ladysoul 15 years ago

    Thank you for sharing, very informative. 

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