The Difference Between HIV And AIDS? (See Inside)

The two terms are often confused, as they are both caused by the same virus.

But they’re not the same, and medical breakthroughs now mean that one never has to turn into the other.

Today is World AIDS Day, so a good time to look into some of the myths and stigma surrounding the diagnosis.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the name of the virus, while Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a condition caused by HIV.

You can have HIV without developing AIDS, and many people live for many years with HIV without ever developing AIDS. But if you have AIDS, you have to have HIV.

If the virus isn’t treated and they do become ill, the condition is known as AIDS.

If someone has AIDS, their immune system is compromised such that they become susceptible to ordinary germs like coughs and cold, which can grow into pneumonia. 

It can now be treated with anti-retroviral drugs. These can reduce the levels of the virus in the blood to such low levels that they are not detectable, and cannot be passed on to somebody else.

By the way, here are several ways you can NOT catch HIV:
  • Touching someone, for example hugging
  • Insect bites
  • Sharing things like towels or food utensils
  • French kissing (except the unlikely possibility if both people have a cut in their mouth)
  • Using a toilet seat
Ways you can be infected instead
Body fluids that can contain HIV include the following:
  • Blood (including menstrual blood)
  • Semen and possibly pre-seminal fluid (pre-cum)
  • Vaginal secretions
  • Breast milk
 Sexual behaviours
  •  Vaginal sex (Penis in the vagina)
  • Anal sex (Penis in the anus) involving men or women
  • Oral sex (mouth on the penis or vagina)
Other ways HIV can be transmitted
  • Sharing needles when shooting drugs
  • Accidental needle sticks
  • Blood transfusions
  • Childbirth
  • Breast-feeding
  • Organ transplantation (if the donor organ is HIV infected)
  • Blood on the clipper, after someone infected had bled into it

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