HIV, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is the virus that causes AIDS. AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is the name given for a variety of disease manifestations caused by HIV infection.
What is it?
AIDS is a disease that results from being infected with HIV. It occurs when the individual’s immune system is weakened by HIV to a point where the individual develops one or more of about 25 ‘opportunistic infections’ (OIs).
HIV is a virus (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). HIV harms the body’s immune system by attacking certain cells, known as helper T cells or CD4 cells. A weakened immune system is not able to defend the body against illnesses.
How does it spread?
Only individuals affected with HIV can develop AIDS. HIV infection usually progresses to AIDS in an average of 10 years. However, someone in a resource-poor area who might not be adequately nourished may well progress to AIDS and death more rapidly.
HIV is transmitted through sexual contact, blood (e.g. sharing syringes during drug use or medical use), and from mother to child during pregnancy, birth or via breast milk. HIV is not spread through casual contact, hugging or shaking hands.
HIV is the virus that may cause AIDS. Not everyone who is infected with HIV develops AIDS. People can live with HIV for years without the disease ever developing into AIDS. It is during this time that the greatest strides against the disease can be taken with proper treatment.
HIV belongs to a subset of viruses called retroviruses or slow virus and it is grows in strength over time. HIV is entered through the body through the mucous membranes or through blood to blood contact.
Once you get the virus it slowly begins to attack the immune system, killing off healthy immune system cells. The deterioration and destruction of immune function leads to AIDS, but this could take anywhere between months and years. AIDS is the final stage of the HIV infection.
People with AIDS can get many different kinds of diseases which a healthy person's body would normally fight off quite easily. The body’s immune system is slowly being attacked until it is destroyed and can't fight off infections.