Understanding HIV and AIDS


See All That HIV and AIDS Are All About

Being a popular virus, HIV has been in existence since the nineties. According to myths, the virus started when a young lady had sexual intercourse with a Chimpanzee. As much as people try to avoid it, people still contract it almost every day. As a result of this, the yearly statistics for the number of people with the disease is on the rise. Several modes of transmission have made the disease more complex and easier to spread, which puts everyone at risk.

HIV and AIDS are different. Although the former is the cause of the latter, which automatically means that the latter cannot exist without the prior existence of the former. In addition, the former can be transmitted while the latter cannot. This article elaborates on this topic in order to help you properly distinguish between these two illnesses, their modes of contraction, transmission, how HIV develops into AIDS, and their management.


HIV is the abbreviation for ‘‘Human Immunodeficiency Virus.” As its name implies, it is a virus that destroys the immune system and exposes the body to all sorts of diseases and infections. It kills the immune system cells. These immune system cells are known as the CD4 cells. While destroying these cells, your body gets exposed to severe health conditions like cancer. You become vulnerable and fall sick at any slight infection your body comes in contact with.

HIV is the onset of AIDS. Its existence and lack of proper management and treatment lead to AIDS. HIV can be transmitted in quite a number of ways. However, all of these various ways have one thing in common, which is “body fluid.” Without anybody’s fluid, the virus is non-potent. When it comes in contact with any of the body fluids, it begins to spread gradually within the body while affecting and deteriorating the immune system. Some of the body fluids through which HIV can be transmitted include;



Breast milk

Vaginal fluid

Rectal fluid

HIV invades the immune system and affects the DNA of cells. Being a lifelong health condition that it is, it has no known cure yet. Currently, research is still ongoing by Researchers and Scientists as regards drugs that are effective enough to eliminate the virus from the body. However, with proper medical care and intervention, it can be managed. When adequate antiretroviral drugs are administered, the effects of the virus on the body can be controlled and managed. Proper management and control help improve the quality of life of the victims and also help them live longer.

When HIV is ignored without management or control, it develops into AIDS. At this point, the immune system is totally paralyzed and unable to resist or fight off any infections or diseases. Untreated AIDS leaves you with just 3 years to live, according to medical research. However, when HIV is duly managed, it is quite possible that your life expectancy is nearly the same as someone who does not have the virus.

Over 3 million people live with HIV, and about 2 out of 14 do not know how they contracted the virus.


AIDS, also known as Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome, is the advanced stage of HIV. AIDS develops only in people with HIV. In the event that a person has HIV, that does not automatically translate that the person has AIDS. AIDS only develops when HIV is left untreated for a long time.

Medically, the amount of CD4 cells in an average adult’s immune system is usually between 500 and 1600. When the count drops below 200 per cubic millimeter, the person may be diagnosed with AIDS.

AIDS could also be a result of opportunistic infections affecting the body due to the weak immune system. When you develop any opportunistic infection or any form of rare cancer, which is not common among people with HIV, then your HIV may develop into AIDS faster than normal.

Usually, HIV develops into AIDS in a matter of ten years if left untreated. Since there is no remedy, the life expectancy of people with untreated AIDS is pegged at 3 years and can sometimes be shorter if the person is unfortunate to develop opportunistic infections in the process. Treating AIDS with antiretroviral drugs can help prevent HIV from developing into AIDS and can also prevent AIDS from getting worse.

If AIDS develops and worsens, it means the immune system is extremely down and totally weak to the degree that it can no longer combat infections from entering the body, no matter how minute. This leaves the victim at risk of developing several severe and chronic illnesses. Some of these illnesses include;

Oral thrush







Short life expectancy is not wholly a result of untreated AIDS. It is more of the complications that arise from the effects of opportunistic infections than untreated AIDS.

HIV Transmission

HIV can be transmitted from one person to another through body fluids like semen, vaginal fluid, breast milk, blood, and rectal fluids. Some of the modes through which HIV can be contracted are;

Unprotected Anal or Vaginal Sex

sexSharing infected syringe needles and other sharp objects. Needles that have come in contact with the blood of persons who have the virus

Premastication-the process of chewing foods before feeding them to a baby


Unsterilized tattoo equipment

Unsterilized hair making and barbing equipment

Vulnerability to the blood of an infected person, either through wounds or through sharp objects they came in contact with

Through pregnancy or during labor. This transmission process occurs between a mother and her child.

Blood Transfusion and Tissue or Organ Transplant

Other ways through which the virus spreads (although these ways are extremely rare, but can also be a means of transmission);

Oral sex; when there is a sore in the person’s mouth, transmission can occur.

Transmission through mucus membrane, broken skin, and wounds of infected persons

Bite from an infected person; though extremely rare, but when the infected person’s saliva mixes with blood, transmission can occur.

HIV Does Not Spread Through the Following Means;

Saliva, sweat, and tears (except they are mixed with the infected person’s blood)

Skin-to-skin contact



Sharing of toilets and towels

Sharing foods

Mosquitoes and other insects

Importantly, when an infected person undergoes treatment and gets to a point where the viral load in their blood becomes undetectable, it is quite possible that the virus may not be transmitted from that person to other people.

Causes of HIV

Medical research holds that a virus known as the simian immunodeficiency virus is a common virus in African Chimpanzees and probably got transmitted from Chimpanzees to humans through humans’ consumption of Chimpanzee meat especially the meat from infected Chimpanzees. When the virus then gets into the human body, it develops into what is known as the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, which was discovered in 1920.

It began to spread in Africa first, and in a matter of decades, the virus extended its tentacles to other portions of the world. Sometime in 1959 was when the first HIV-infected blood sample was discovered.

Causes of AIDS

HIV causes AIDS. Without a person contracting HIV first, AIDS cannot come into the picture. When HIV eats deep into the immune system, causing the CD4 cells to drop below 200, AIDS happens.

In addition, when an HIV-infected person develops opportunistic infections that worsen their health condition, AIDS develops quickly, even if their CD4 count is above 200.

Symptoms of HIV

tummy achesAfter contracting the virus, most people still do not know they have the virus. The early stage of HIV symptoms is known as the acute infection stage. This is a stage where symptoms are unnoticed or mild if noticed. When serious symptoms begin to manifest, the stage is known as the clinical stage or the latency stage. These symptoms can last between 1 and 10 years. Some of these symptoms include;



Recurrent fevers

Headaches and body pains



Skin rashes



Night sweats

Swollen lymph nodes

Weight loss

These symptoms can be of any other kind of disease or illness. However, when the symptoms become recurrent and persistent, then you need to get yourself checked.

In conclusion, HIV and AIDS are intertwined but differ in causes and modes of transmission. Poor management and treatment of both can lead to severe complications, which involve the shortening of life expectancy.


cancer.any malignant growth or tumor caused by abnormal and uncontrolled cell division; it may spread to other parts of the body through the lymphatic system or the blood streamMore (Definitions, Synonyms, Translation)