What Is The Difference Between HIV And AIDS?

HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a deadly virus, which infects humans. It makes you ill and, if left untreated, may finally lead to a condition called AIDS.

So, AIDS is the advanced condition of the illness caused by this virus.

How Does One Get Infected By HIV Virus?

This virus is transmitted from one individual to another via infected blood, semen or vaginal secretions. So, the common modes from transmission are-

  • Unprotected vaginal sex
  • Unprotected anal sex
  • Using contaminated syringes for drug administration
  • Among drug abusers who inject drugs, using common syringes
  • From mother to child during birth
  • From mother to child during breastfeeding

Who All Can Give /Transmit HIV?

All those who have been diagnosed HIV positive ever in life may potentially give this infection. Though, patients having more number of this virus in their body are more likely to give the infection.

Viraemia, that is, a condition with large number of virus in blood, is commoner when a person has recently got the infection. After being infected, the patient may have high titers of this virus in his blood. Gradually, these titers decline with time, as the body fights against the infection.

Then after, there comes a chronic phase when the viral levels in blood are low, and the person is less infectious.

Can A HIV Positive Person Showing No Symptom Of Illness Pass On Infection?

Yes. He is less infectious than those showing symptoms, however, this person may also give you the infection.

Can Breastfeeding Transfer HIV From Mother To Child?


If the mother is being treated with Anti Retrovirals, or is in the chronic phase of infection, she is less likely to transmit the infection. However, the possibility of transmission of infection still exists.

What Is Vertical Transmission?

Transfer of bugs from mother to child, as during labor, is termed medically as vertical transfer.

What Is Aids?

Acquired immunodeficiency Syndrome is the most advance stage of HIV infection. It is potentially life threatening. Average survival time without any medical treatment is 3 years. It may be less in people who have contracted severe infections.

Usually, it is the third stage this disease exhibits. Three stages are as follows:

  • Acute infection, expressing as flu like illness
  • Chronic phase, showing almost no sign of illness
  • AIDS, when the patient appears severely sick

What Happens In AIDS?

As the name suggests, we acquire a deficiency of immune cells.

The causative agent, HIV, targets our immune cells, chiefly CD4+ cells. It uses their cellular machinery for self replication and also kills these cells.

As the disease progresses, our body gets depleted of immune cells. Our immune declines terribly, making us prone to all infections pervading around us.

End Stage Of Aids Patients

Sufferers of this illness usually die of opportunistic infections or certain cancers. The cause is severely low levels of immune cells.

CD4 Cell Count Threshold For AIDS Diagnosis

200cells/ mm3 of blood.

How To Recognize An HIV Infected Person?

It’s usually not possible to detect these patients on the basis of symptoms, due to lack of specific signs or symptoms of the disease.

Diagnosis is made by laboratory blood testing.

What Do These Labs test?

Labs tests the levels of specific antibodies produced against HIV in the body by our immune cells. ELISA test is carried out.

Some labs have also started checking for the presence of HIV in blood, indicated by the presence of one of its surface antigens, p24.

Stages Of HIV Infection

Three marked stages of this infection may be clearly noticed.

First is the phase of Acute Infection. It is express out 2 to 4 weeks after the person has contracted the HIV infection. HIV virus attacks the CD4 immune cells. It adheres to them, gets inside it and starts using the cells’ machinery to produce more of HIV viruses.

Our blood shows very high levels of this virus. However, antibodies are also rapidly produced against HIV by our immune cells. Blood may show high levels of these antibodies too.

Production of antibodies is called Seroconversion.

Chronic Phase is the next to follow. Viral counts have now declined in blood, though immune cells are still carrying the infection, trying to confine it. This phase may continue for 10 years or more.

In patients seeking treatment, this phase may last for 20 to 25 years. There’s usually no symptom, and the person is able to lead a normal life.

The last stage is most advanced, and termed as AIDS. HIV has now destroyed most of the CD4 immune cells, blood cell levels as low as 200 cells/ mm3 of blood. Viral levels in blood are again high.

Affected person is extremely prone to all kinds of opportunistic infections around him. Any small infection may emerge as a life threatening problem.


The first phase or acute phase may show flu like symptoms. One may have fever with muscle aches or joint pains. Sore throat, headache, weakness etc may accompany.

Lymph nodes of the armpit, groin and other areas may be swollen and tender. Characteristically, a rash, usually over the torso may be present. This ois often diagnostic, along with the presence of other symptoms.

There may be purplish bumps near the mouth or anal orifice.

Chronic phase may show no symptom, though swollen lymph nodes may exist.

The final stage may show one or more of the following-

  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Thrush in the oral cavity
  • Fever
  • Extreme Tiredness
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Presence of infections in the body
  • Certain cancers

What Is Window Period?

Time interval between the appearance of first symptom and contracting the virus. It’s usually 2 to 4 weeks.

When To Start With Medications For AIDS?

Start as early as possible. Many people argue about why to take ART treatment when not showing any symptom. This approach is not right. One should start with the treatment at the earliest to control the disease.

What Is The Role Of ART Treatment Is HIV Infected Individuals?

ART controls the HIV infection. It doesn’t cure the infection. However, by effectively controlling the disease, it may prolong the life span to almost normal average age.

The severity of symptoms is also dampened. Patients are much less infectious and are able to lead a normal life.

Should I Take ART Despite Side Effects?

The answer is yes. If untreated, HIV infection is lethal. The only way to improve and prolong life is ART (Anti Retro Viral) treatment.

Medical Advice (Q&As) on “FAQs On AIDS And HIV Infection

  1. Chhinder Pal Singh

    If a person is tested HIV+ in the year 2015 through a blood test, unfortunately on treating for any of his illness in the hospital, then what could one estimate the time period of his HIV infection that may have arises through any of his STD contact. I mean, what would be the estimated period of years from which he might have been carrying out his STD infection or have HIV infection ? Please need your valuable advise.

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      There’s no definite time period that can be given here. It all depends upon the general health and immune status of the person carrying the infection. A very healthy person can keep the virus for years, without letting it manifest any symptom. While a weaker individual may start showing symptoms very soon.

      In general, it may be 3 to 5 years.


Ask Your Medical Question

Your Question will be answered by a specialist M.D. in 1-2 days.

To prevent unauthorized comments, we request you to solve a simple problem: *