What is HIV?

One of the most dreaded diagnosis an individual can be given is that they have HIV. It is hard to believe that a virus could cause such a horrific disease, yet that is what HIV is, its caused by a virus.

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. When this virus enters the body it attacks the immune system. A healthy immune system is vital for the health of every person. When this system becomes hiv-cellscompromised it hinders it from doing its job, which is to help the body ward off disease. HIV refers to both the actual virus itself and the infection it brings with it.

Many people who hear of HIV automatically assume that this is AIDS, which it is not. When HIV gets to the last stage of the disease then it is classed as AIDS which stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

HIV strikes specific white blood cells called CD4+ cells. If too many of these cells get attacked then the individual’s immune system can no longer protect the individual against infection. If HIV is not treated it can end up where too many of these cells will be destroyed and the individual could end up with some types of cancers and infections that a healthy individual would not normally be stricken with.

It is really important that individuals understand that just because they have been diagnosed with HIV does not mean they have AIDS. Even if the afflicted person were not to participate in any form of treatment for the HIV, it would probably take ten to twelve years before the HIV progressed to AIDS.

Great strides have been made both in the early diagnosis of HIV and its treatment. People afflicted with this disease are living much longer and basically normal lives compared to many years ago. These treatments are often able to stop or slow the damage that the virus is doing, and can often help to restore the immune system if the disease has developed into AIDS.