HIV and AIDS What are the differences?

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 HIV and AIDS  What are the differences?

December 1, World AIDS Day, is a important date to raise awareness and educate part of one of the most challenging pandemics in history. However, despite the wide dissemination of information, there is still a lot of confusion about what HIV and AIDS are. Below, we examine the basic differences between the two terms to better understand this problem. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the causative agent of infection. This virus attacks the immune system, especially the CD4 cells, which play an important role in protecting the body against infections and diseases. By infecting these cells, HIV gradually weakens the body’s ability to defend itself.

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A person can be HIV positive without showing any noticeable symptoms for years. In fact, without adequate treatment, the most common symptoms of HIV infection may begin to appear. between 5 and 10 years after the initial infection. During this time, the virus continues to damage the immune system. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the term used to describe the most advanced stages of HIV infection. If a person infected with HIV does not receive treatment, the immune system weakens to a critical point. At this stage, the body is no longer able to effectively fight infections and diseases.

AIDS is characterized by the appearance of opportunistic diseases or cancers that are rare in individuals with a healthy immune system. This may include some pneumonias, tuberculosis or Kaposi’s sarcoma, among others. The appearance of these diseases marks the progression of HIV to its final stage. It is important to remember that the time it takes for HIV to turn into AIDS can vary greatly from one person to another. Factors such as access to medical treatment, genetics, the presence of other diseases and lifestyle can influence this process. In general, without treatment, it is estimated that the transition from HIV to AIDS can occur within 10 to 15 years.

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Thanks to medical advances, HIV is now a manageable condition. Antiretroviral treatments can reduce the viral load at undetectable levels, allowing people with HIV to live long and healthy lives. In addition, prevention through education, condom use, regular screening, and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) are important in controlling the spread of the virus.