The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), is a virus that attacks the immune system, making it difficult for the body to fight off disease. There are three stages of this virus - the third, and the last stage being acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, also often known as AIDS.
While in recent years, thanks to progression in treatment and medications, AIDS has become less common, according to HIV.gov, about 19% of people with HIV/AIDS still don’t know their status - highlighting a need for better access to prevention and treatment for this virus .
See also: How Long can HIV go Undetected?
Are HIV and AIDS the same thing?
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. In the United States, at present, it’s not as common for people with HIV to develop AIDS because of the developments seen in HIV treatment; often referred to as antiretroviral therapy (ART).
Early treatment and detection are crucial when it comes to stopping the progress of HIV. This means that knowing the early signs and symptoms of HIV as well as regularly checking your sexual health is key to knowing your HIV status.
Common symptoms of stage 1 of the HIV infection (acquired HIV infection) include flu-like symptoms such as:
- Night sweats
- Muscle aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
If the HIV infection is not detected and progresses into stage 3 (AIDS), the body’s immune system will begin to deteriorate and the individual will be at risk of experiencing severe illnesses. Although there is no specific test used to diagnose AIDS, a doctor is likely to take into account the individual’s symptoms as well as the viral load and CD4 count .
See also: Can I Boost my CD4 Count?
Which is worse HIV or AIDS?
AIDS is the last and most advanced stage of HIV. A person is considered to have progressed into AIDS when the following occurs:
- CD4 cell count drops below 200
- Develop one or more opportunistic infections
AIDS is characterized by the occurrence of severe illnesses, referred to as opportunistic infections. These infections tend to occur more often in those with AIDS and affect people with weakened immune systems more severely than people with healthy immune systems. Some of the most common opportunistic infections include:
- Herpes simplex virus (HSV-1)
- Thrush (Candidiasis)
Can you get AIDS without HIV?
As HIV is the virus that causes AIDS, it’s not possible to get AIDS without HIV. It’s important to note that although HIV can cause AIDS once the virus has progressed, not everyone who is HIV positive will develop AIDS.
See also: What are the Symptoms of Late-Stage HIV?
How long does it take HIV to turn into AIDS?
If a person with HIV goes undiagnosed and without treatment, it’s possible for the virus to continue to develop into the next stages. According to Mayo Clinic, it can take around 8-10 years for HIV to develop into AIDS without the appropriate treatment .
It is now not as common for HIV to progress into AIDS with early diagnosis and prompt testing to thank for allowing people with HIV to live long and happy lives.
If you are experiencing symptoms of early-stage HIV and believe you may have been exposed to the virus, it’s important to find out more. This can be done by taking a test with your doctor or from home with an at-home lab test.
LetsGetChecked’s at-home HIV Test involves a simple finger prick sample with online results available within 2-5 days. Our dedicated medical team will be available throughout the process to offer a helping hand should you need it.
You consider taking a test if:
- You should also consider getting tested if:
- You become sexually active
- You have had unprotected sex
- You are experiencing symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection
- You are entering into a new sexual relationship
- You have received a notification from a previous partner that they are infected (STIs can remain dormant for years and/ or take up to three weeks to become detectable.)
See also: How do you Check for HIV From Home?