What are HIV and AIDS? The terms are often interchanged and can be confusing, especially because both are so tied to each other. But they are not the same thing.
HIV is a virus that can lead to AIDS. HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It’s a virus that hurts the immune system and keeps it from functioning well. Because the body cannot clear HIV from the system, it can have extremely serious effects and even be fatal.
AIDS is acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Essentially, AIDS is the condition that results from the immune system having been severely damanged by HIV.
AIDS severely hampers the body’s ability to fight off infections.
HIV Is Not a Death Sentence
It is possible to have HIV and not develop AIDs. This makes testing extremely important.
An individual can have HIV and not know for a very long time, with the only hint being a short period of flu-like symptoms.
Because the body brings HIV under control in this time frame, called the latency period, an individual could be an unknowing carrier of HIV because they’re not displaying any symptoms.
Thankfully, an easy test exists to diagnose HIV. A blood or saliva test can reveal the presence of specific antibodies created by the body to fight HIV.
Alternatively, an individual can be tested for antigens, proteins HIV produces.
HIV is much easier to treat and manage before it’s developed into AIDS. At that point, the immune system has been almost irreparably damaged, and infections that individuals would normally easily fend off become deadly.
HIV is typically treated with drugs called antiretrovirals, drugs that work by preventing the virus from replicating.
If you are at all concerned you may have contracted HIV, it’s urgent that you get tested. Not only is your own health at stake, but also those of any sexual partners you may have had.
If you at all feel you’re at risk, make an appointment to get tested now. If you want to find out more information, call our office to schedule an appointment.