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AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome)

Published on Apr 11, 2019   -  4 min read



AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) is the most advanced stage of HIV infection. AIDS is defined by the presence of at least one major and two minor infections and not related to CD4 count. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) causes HIV and AIDS.

AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome)

AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) is the most advanced stage of HIV infection. AIDS is defined by the presence of at least one major and two minor infections and not related to CD4 count. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) causes HIV and AIDS.

There are two types of HIV, which are HIV-1 and HIV-2, both of which can cause AIDS. The only difference being HIV-2 cannot be transmitted easily and once infected, it takes time for HIV infection to lead to AIDS. If HIV infection is left untreated, it gradually affects the immune system, which results in AIDS as the body becomes susceptible to infections. Without treatment, 50 % of people with HIV develop AIDS within 10 years.

Since the first documented case of AIDS in 1981, nearly 35 million people have died due to conditions resulting from this disease. But now with the help of combination antiretroviral drugs, HIV infection has been converted into a chronic disease that people live with.

With proper treatment and care, people with HIV infection can expect a near-normal life expectancy. Once an HIV patient progresses to AIDS, he or she typically survive for about 3 years without treatment. But if the patient is infected with some dangerous opportunistic infection, then life-expectancy falls to about a year.

What Are the Factors Responsible for the Rapid Progression of HIV to AIDS?

The progression of HIV to AIDS depends on a lot of factors like:

  1. Age of the patient.

  2. The condition of the immune system to fight against HIV.

  3. Availability of high-quality healthcare.

  4. The presence of other diseases and infections.

  5. Strains of HIV that are resistant to drugs.

  6. The patient's genetic resistance to some of the HIV strains.

What Are the Symptoms of AIDS?

The symptoms of AIDS are:

What Are Opportunistic Infections of HIV?

As HIV weakens the immune system, the normal flora of our body and commensal organisms (organisms that help our body in our day to day life) become overactive and attack our body causing opportunistic infections. That is it takes the opportunity and feeds on our body causing multiple infections. Some of the commonly seen infections are:

How Can Opportunistic Infections Be Prevented?

HIV patients can prevent the disease from progressing to AIDS by preventing opportunistic infections by:

How Can AIDS Be Treated?

Once the disease has progressed to AIDS, only symptomatic treatment is given. Depending on the cause and type of opportunistic infection, antibiotics and antiviral medicines are used. By adhering to a strict antiretroviral regimen, most HIV patients lead a near normal life. Avoid getting infected by taking some precautionary measures. Patients with AIDS can revert the condition to HIV by sticking to proper treatment.

There is no permanent cure for HIV infection currently. HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy) will stop replication of the virus, so further damage to CD4 cells will be stopped. This can be seen as “target not found” in plasma viral load, which is used to monitor treatment. HIV once positive will remain positive lifelong.


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Last reviewed at:
11 Apr 2019  -  4 min read


Dr. Kiran Anaparthi

Dr. Kiran Anaparthi

MBBS, Clinical management in HIV, PGDHIVM

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