What is HIV?
‘HIV’ stands for Human Immunodeficiency syndrome.
H — (Human). This means that the virus can only infect humans.
I — (Immune deficiency). This means that the virus weakens the immune response of the infected by attacking and destroying cells of the immune system that fight infections and diseases.
V — (Virus). This indicates that it is a virus and viruses are characterized by the fact that they can only reproduce and multiply by taking over a cells in the body host (human).
Human beings are naturally prone to virus attacks such as those inducing common colds or eye infections. HIV also attacks human beings but the major difference between this virus and other viruses which attack humans is the fact that the human immune response system can fight other viruses and remove them from the human body but not HIV.
This is because HIV usually attack the cells of the immune system, thus weakening its response by using the cells to reproduce, hence, it can’t be eradicated from the body.
This means that when HIV attacks the body of a person, it is there to stay in the body of such a person for life. HIV hides in the cells of the human body for a long time and it attacks T-cells or CD4 cells which are part of human immune system.
Normally, the human body needs these cells to be able to fight infections and diseases which attack the human body, but when HIV gets into a body of a human, it lodges on these cells and uses them to reproduce and multiply and eventually destroys them.
With time, HIV can destroy a vast amount of the CD4 cells until the immune system becomes so weak and can’t fight infections and diseases any more. In such a situation the HIV attack may lead to AIDS which is a final stage of the HIV infection.
However, it should be noted that not all humans with HIV infections yield to the final stage which is AIDS. Proper treatment and management called antiretroviral therapy (ART) should be embraced to keep the level of HIV from multiplying hence it will be low and manageable.
ART involves the use of HIV medicines to fight and control HIV infection thus enabling HIV patient to live a longer and a healthier life and also it reduces the chances of sexual transmittance of HIV. Currently there is no approved cure of HIV although scientific research is ongoing.
What are AIDS?
AIDS stands for Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome.
A — (Acquired). It means that the disease is acquired after birth i.e it is not genetically transmitted or inheritable.
I — (Immune). This encompasses all human body’s immune system such as organs and cells of the immune system which fights of infections and disease.
D — (Deficiency). This means that AIDS infects the human body when the immune system is considerably weak.
S — (Syndrome). A syndrome encompasses signs and symptoms of diseases.
It means that AIDS is a syndrome and not a single disease but is a complex of infections with different complication and symptoms usually rare opportunistic infections and some types of cancers.
AIDS is the final step of HIV infection. Humans at this stage of HIV infection have severely weakened immune defense systems hence great risks of Opportunistic Infections (OIs).
A person is considered to have AIDS if his/her body has one or more OIs , certain cancers or an alarming low level of CD4 cells.