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What is the Difference Between HIV and AIDS?

It’s not uncommon that we see the terms HIV and AIDS used interchangeably. This often causes confusion about what each of them are, how they’re different, and the misconceptions surrounding both of them.

So, what is HIV?

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. Only humans can contract HIV, and it attacks the immune system. While one’s immune system usually fights off viruses, HIV causes the immune system not to work the way it should.

There are also three stages of HIV: acute, chronic, and AIDS. Acute HIV has several symptoms that are common for a lot of ailments. This includes headache, fatigue, aching muscles, and a sore throat. Chronic HIV is a bit different. Once this stage begins, the almost flu-like symptoms of the acute stage leave and an asymptomatic (chronic) stage begins. This stage can last up to ten years.

What is AIDS?

As stated before, AIDS is the third and final stage of HIV. Once the virus has progressed to this stage, it can do major damage to your immune system. If not medicated, and without a proactive lifestyle change in a previous stage, can include: swollen lymph nodes, a fever that lasts more than ten days, purple spots that don’t go away, and unexplained weight loss.

Without medication, a person at this stage can only live up to an average of three years. The most important thing to remember about this stage is that with treatment you can live a long and happy life.

Misconceptions About HIV and AIDS

First and foremost, HIV is no longer a death sentence like it was in the 80s. There are medications and treatments that can increase the lifespan and quality of life for somebody with an HIV+ diagnosis. Not to mention, places like METRO who offer HIV treatment are even able to get patients to an “undetectable” status. This means there is so little of the virus in their body, it can’t be detected by a test. It also means you can stay healthy and it’s less likely you’ll spread the virus to your partner(s). It’s important to know the facts about HIV and AIDS to combat stigma that still exists around this treatable virus.

Secondly, you can’t get HIV or AIDS simply by being around a person, hugging or kissing them, or even by sitting on the same toilet they did (a ridiculous myth, we know). How can HIV/AIDS be passed from one person to another? The only way you can get HIV is from passing bodily fluids from one person to another. Methods of transmission include unprotected penetrative/genital sex, through childbirth and breastfeeding, injecting drugs with needles that have the blood of a person with HIV or AIDS on it, and contaminated blood transfusions.

METRO Reduces HIV & Provides Care in Tampa Bay 

With our partner CAN Community HealthMetro Inclusive Health remains the only area organization offering primary care alongside HIV care, treatment and case management. We offer over 100 services, including pharmacy, mental health and community programming.

Treatments at METRO are more simplified and streamlined because of access to federal, state and local partners. So, we’re not only first in line to know the latest in advanced HIV treatments, we make it our business to stay on top of how they apply to each individual patient.

Our Medical Case Management includes connecting patients to necessary services and an emphasis on medical disease management and treatment adherence. Our goal is to assist clients in becoming increasingly self-sufficient with an improvement in overall well-being. Learn more about our community specific case management services.

With our advanced knowledge, we help HIV+ patients get to “undetectable” status. That means there is so little of the virus in your body, it can’t be detected by a test. It also means you can stay healthy, and the likelihood of spreading the virus to partners decreases.

For those in loving magne+ic (+/-) relationships, or those who want to practice confident and conscious sexual health: Discover PrEP, a daily pill that can lower an individual’s potential for contracting HIV by up to 99%.

To learn more about METRO can provide for your sexual health and overall wellness, reach out to us at 727-321-3854.

Sources: Healthline