Difference between HIV and AIDS

November 27, 2015 by Editorial Team

For most people, it is not uncommon to consider HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) as being the same. There are differences, but the two terms are closely related to one another. While HIV is a virus that infects a person’s immune system which is responsible for protecting the body against any illnesses, AIDS is the resultant disease that victimizes people with HIV.


HIV is a virus that attacks the human’s immune system, as the name itself suggests. Once you get exposed to the lethal virus, you face the peril of contracting the infection of AIDS.

A strong immune system is imperative for you to fight any infections or ailments. HIV, however, causes the functioning of the immune system to deteriorate so that it doesn’t work properly. The HIV virus is tough for your immune system to fight with. A white blood cell dubbed T-helper or CD4 is annihilated by it and the virus gets multiplied inside them.

An H9 T-cell after getting infected by HIV

The victim may carry varied strains of HIV in his body, which are mainly categorized as HIV 1 and HIV 2. The first one is the most prevalent type of HIV around the world, whereas the second type mostly hits people in western Africa, with a few in Europe and India.

AIDS is an advanced stage of the HIV virus. In fact, AIDS is a consequence of the HIV virus. A person contracts AIDS when his immune system T-helper or CD4 cells plunge significantly to make him unable to fight the infection. When HIV attacks you, your body creates “antibodies” to battle the same. Nevertheless, AIDS fails to let your body do so.

Varied AIDS-defining illnesses may occur in people with HIV. AIDS is HIV’s last stage, which if not treated in time, may lead to lethal consequences. As of now, AIDS has no definite cure.

Life cycle of AIDS
Life cycle of AIDS


HIV is an infection that weakens your immune system, whereas AIDS is the outcome of untreated HIV. One may contract HIV without getting victimized by AIDS. On the contrary, it is not possible to contract AIDS until and unless you are infected by the HIV virus.

HIV is most commonly a result of unsafe sex. However, it can be acquired by sharing infected needles or by sharing other equipment such as blades. It is common for an HIV-positive mother to transfer her disease to her new-born either during pregnancy or breastfeeding, since it is the body fluids of a person such as semen, blood, vaginal fluids, or breast milk that carry HIV. AIDS is the only result of HIV, if left untreated for a long period.

People tested positive for HIV may still survive for around 10-15 years before they develop AIDS. On the other hand, people with AIDS are difficult to treat and have higher odds of facing death. AIDS may cause its victim to develop certain health conditions such as weight loss, seizures, nausea and vomiting, loss of sight, shortness of breath, coma, and pneumonia. Generally, HIV can be easily detected with a blood or saliva test. Nonetheless, AIDS diagnosis is somewhat complex, but can be determined with the count of CD4 cells or through the appearance of opportunistic infections.

Comparison Chart

Diagnosis is simpleDiagnosis is complicated
HIV is an infectionAIDS is the final stage of HIV


You can refer to the video below for better understanding the difference between HIV and AIDS.