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HIV & AIDS: what’s the difference?

Dr. Leandro: What’s the difference between HIV and AIDS?

Dr. Demetre: You have some questions? We know HIV.

Dr. David: I’m a doctor. I’m trained for this.

Dr. Leandro: We’re gonna give you what you need. HIV is the Human Immunodeficiency Virus that actually causes AIDS, which is Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. AIDS is a clinical diagnosis and it’s associated with the development of symptoms and signs that suggest that people’s immune system has been weakened so much by the HIV virus that now they’re susceptible to other infections. So, people who get infected with HIV don’t always develop AIDS, and actually nowadays HIV infections can be treated in such a way that can actually prevent people from ever developing AIDS.

Dr. Leandro explains HIV, AIDS, and how they’re connected.

HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is a virus that attacks a key part of the immune system – the T-cells or CD4 cells – which help defend the body against illness. Left untreated, HIV can destroy so many CD4 cells that the body can’t fight infections and diseases anymore. When that happens, HIV can lead to an AIDS diagnosis.

AIDS, or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, is a clinical diagnosis that indicates an advanced stage of HIV.

Not everyone who has HIV progresses to AIDS. A person with HIV who is on antiretroviral (ARV) medication and in ongoing medical care can live a normal, healthy lifespan and have children without HIV. In addition to improving health, ARVs also prevent the spread of the virus.

Click here for more information in HIV basics. 

#AskTheHIVDoc is a video series from Greater Than AIDS featuring top HIV doctors providing answers to commonly-asked questions about HIV prevention, testing and treatment.

This information is shared for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. The views expressed are those of the featured medical professional and reflect information available to that professional at time of filming. Always consult a health care provider for any personal health decision.

While we make every effort to keep the medical information on our website updated, we cannot guarantee that the information reflects the most up-to-date research. Also, please note the views expressed by individuals who appear in Greater Than AIDS videos and other content are their own and are not made on behalf of any groups/organizations/associations.