Information about HIV and AIDS
What is HIV?
HIV is an abbreviation for human immunodeficiency virus. In some old books you will find the term HTLV-III and LAV. The term used today is HIV. HIV is a virus that attacks parts of the immune system. When the virus enters the body, it breaks down parts of the body´s defense against bacteria, viruses and fungi.
After the virus has been in the body for a while, many HIV-positive people become sick with opportunistic infections. These are infections that lie dormant in most people, but that will not give any signs as far as the immune system is in good condition. This could include fungal infections, toxoplasmosis and some types of cancer.
Stages of HIV infection
A person who is carrying the HIV virus is HIV infected. HIV can be asymptomatic (not symptom giving) or symptomatic. One can divide an HIV infection in several stages:
Acute HIV infection Shortly after infection (3-6 weeks) some – not all – show acute HIV infection with flu-like symptoms. The most common symptoms are fever, throat pain and swollen lymph nodes. It can also be a rash, diarrhea, coughing and coating on the tonsils.
Asymptomatic HIV infection Most people with asymptomatic HIV infection do not show symptoms for many years. However,some suffer form enlarged lymph nodes in several places in the body.
Symptomatic HIV infection Usually after many years, the HIV infected person loses weight and becomes plagued by fever, night sweats, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, diarrhea, fungal infection in the mouth, shingles and growing pains with outbreaks of herpes.Many have no symptoms at all and the only way to determine HIV infection is to take HIV test.
What is AIDS
AIDS is an abbreviation for the English term aquired immunodeficiency syndrome.Syndrome means a group of symptoms that together characterize a particular disorder. AIDS is a collective term for a number of diseases that have in common a weak immune system due to HIV infection.
What it takes to be diagnosed with AIDS?
What criteria fulfils an AIDS diagnosis varies from country to country. A typical feature is that the opportunistic diseases occur more frequently and in life-threatening forms. The transition from HIV infection to full-blown AIDS progresses over time, but as a rule the detection of one large or several small infections fulfils AIDS diagnosis.
– From Hiv Norway