If I Have HIV, Will I Get AIDS?

If I Have HIV, Will I Get AIDS?
One of the most major and common misconception surrounding the HIV/AIDS epidemic is that once you have contracted HIV you will one day have AIDS. This misunderstanding comes from the public not being educated to the ins and outs of the virus. In order to answer the question, one must first understand what the difference between HIV and AIDS is, please see HIV/AIDS 101. In short, having the HIV virus means your immune system is compromised. Having and AIDS diagnosis means your immune system is severely compromised. They are two distinctly different diagnoses. One is not indicative of the other.

Having an HIV diagnosis does not guarantee an AIDS diagnosis in the future. There are medications out now that lower the HIV virus in the body making it possible to hang on to just an HIV diagnosis. The benefits of these medications are that they destroy the virus that is currently in the system, keep the virus from further replicating itself and continually raise the body’s CD4 count.

An AIDS diagnosis consists of having the following things:

1. Having a CD4 count of lower than 200 and/or
2. Having an Opportunistic Infection:
A. Bacterial Infections
a. Bacterial Diarrhea (Salmonellosis, Campylobacteriosis, Shigellosis)
b. Bacterial Pneumonia
c. Mycobacterium Avium Complex (MAC)
d. Mycobacterium Kansasii
e. Syphilis & Neurosyphlis
f. Tuberculosis (TB)
B. Malignancies (Cancers)
g. Anal Dysplasia/Cancer
h. Cervical Dysplasia/Cancer
i. Kaposi’s Sarcoma (KS)
j. Lymphomas
C. Viral Infections
k. Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
l. Hepatitis C
m. Herpes Simplex Virus (oral & genital herpes)
n. Herpes Zoster Virus (shingles)
o. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV, genital warts, anal/cervical dysplasia/cancer)
p. Molluscum Contagiosum
q. Oral Hairy Leukoplakia (OHL)
r. Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML)
D. Fungal Infections
s. Aspergillosis
t. Candidiasis (thrush, yeast infection)
u. Coccidiodomycosis
v. Cryptococcal Meningitis
w. Histoplasmosis
E. Protozoal Infections
x. Cryptosporidiosis
y. Isosporiasis
z. Microsporidiosis
aa. Pneumocystis Pneumonia (PCP)
bb. Toxoplasmosis
F. Neurological Conditions
cc. AIDS Dementia Complex (ADC)
dd. Peripheral Neuropathy
G. Other Conditions and Complications
ee. Aphthous Ulcers (Canker sores)
ff. Thrombocytopenia (low platelets)
gg. Wasting Syndrome

Opportunistic Infections are only an issue for those whose immune systems are extremely compromised. People who have uncompromised or not severely compromised immune systems are not susceptible to opportunistic infections. The body is normally able to fight these diseases off on its own.
As long as your CD4 count stays above 200, you are not at risk for having an AIDS diagnosis.

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