AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency S syndrome. Acquired immune deficiency syndrome is a condition in which the bodies immune system becomes so deficient, or damaged, that it can no longer defend the body against microorganisms that can cause disease. People with AIDS die of illnesses that normally do not threaten people whose immune systems are complete and strong.
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. This virus has the ability to enter certain cells of the immune system, called T-Cells, and destroys them. As the HIV virus destroys more T-Cells the number of T-Cells drop and the number of virus cells increase. The lack of T-Cells causes the human immune system to weaken, making it easier for common illnesses to affect those infected. Microorganisms that don't normally hurt healthy people can cause serious, life-threatening diseases in people with HIV.
HIV, like most viruses, enters and remains in the bloodstream until it recognizes the certain kind of cells it can enter. Normally, your body uses white blood cells to protect the body from infection. The primary types of white blood cells are lymphocytes (also called T cells and B cells), which identify substances as foreign and build defenses called antibodies against them, and phagocytes which surround and destroy the invading microorganisms.
HIV enters a special lymphocyte called a CD4 cell, which normally directs other cells to find and destroy foreign substances like viruses. HIV recognizes the CD4 cell, enters the cell and uses it to replicate itself. When the cell is full of new viruses it bursts, releasing the new viruses into the bloodstream to find new CD4 cells to invade. The original cell usually dies. As CD4 cells are destroyed, the immune system is seriously damaged, other microorganisms that don't normally hurt healthy people can cause serious, life-threatening diseases in people with HIV.
HIV gets into the body by means of an infected persons body fluids - mainly blood, seamen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk. HIV infection is spread through unprotected recreational sex, be it vaginal, oral, or anal. HIV is also spread by sharing needles or syringes to inject drugs, most commonly Heroine and Steroids. The virus can also be spread by sharing needles for body piercing, tattooing, or any other reason.
People don't realize that they have been infected with HIV because they may not notice any initial symptoms, or they may simply think they have the flu. The ONLY way doctors can tell if a person is infected is by testing his or her blood for the presence of HIV antibodies.
No, but there are drugs that do three basic things: (1) slow down the replication of HIV, (2) help to rebuild the damaged immune system, and (3) treat or prevent opportunistic infections and AIDS-related cancers.