What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?
The human immunodeficiency virus causes the development of the disease called HIV infection. This infection can get into the body through the blood, through sexual contact or through the milk of an HIV-positive mother. The virus affects the human’s protective system, resulting in higher susceptibility to other infectious and neoplastic disorders development. This problem develops slowly and during many years may not disturb an individual’s health. It is believed that on average of 5 to 15 years may pass from the moment of contagion to the stage of AIDS in case of treatment absence.
There are several stages of HIV infection:
- The incubation period. At this point, the body is already affected, but antibodies to the virus have not been developed yet, so it is almost impossible to reveal the problem presence. There are no clinical manifestations of the disease. Duration of the disorder development lasts from 3 weeks to 3 months.
- The stage of primary manifestations. Active replication of the virus in the body is continued, which is accompanied by the production of antibodies and clinical manifestations. It has several forms. It can occur both asymptomatically and with clinical manifestations, mostly similar to the symptoms of other illnesses: fever, rashes on the skin and mucous membranes, enlarged lymph nodes, pharyngitis. There may be observed such disorders as hepatomegaly, splenomegaly, and diarrhea. In addition, there can develop such secondary diseases as angina, bacterial pneumonia, candidiasis, and herpesvirus. At this stage, these manifestations are short-term, well treatable.
- Subclinical, which is characterized by a slow progression of immunodeficiency. The only clinical manifestation is an increase in lymph nodes, which may be absent as well. The duration of the subclinical stage can vary from 2-3 to 20 or more years, on average – 6-7 years.
- Secondary stage of the disease. At this stage possible loss of body weight, fungal, viral, bacterial, tuberculosis and other serious disorders develop. The development of AIDS itself occurs at this stage.
AIDS – Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome – a serious condition which is developed in a person resulting from severe immunodeficiency caused by the progress of the discussed sickness. Usually at this stage a person already suffers from a significant decrease in immunity and from one or more serious illnesses, called AIDS-associated. AIDS-associated diseases are the main cause of HIV-infected patients’ lethality.
Owing to the development of medicines and the new drugs release, many people affected with this virus, fortunately, avoid AIDS development.
That is why it is so important to pass the HIV test on time, and in case of a positive result, consult specialists and start taking antiretroviral therapy.