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Living with HIV
Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)
While these two terms(HIV and AIDS) are often associated, and appear written together they do not mean the same thing, and actually reflect different stages of this infection.
HIV is the acronym given to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
A Virus : is an infectious agent – different from other infectious agents (of which there are many) that include bacteria, parasites, yeast infections etc.
Immunodeficiency: immuno refers to the immune system (the body’s defence mechanism) and deficiency refers to the state of weakened defence capacity. Immunodeficiency therefore refers to an impaired immune system.
Human: the word human is specified given that several infectious viral agents are active solely in animals, and others in humans.
HIV is a virus able to attack and weaken the human immune system.
AIDS is the acronym given to the more advanced stage of an HIV infection : the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.
Syndrome : This word signifies a constellation of symptoms.
Immuno refers to the immune system (the body’s defence mechanism) and deficiency refers to the state of weakened defence capacity. Immunodeficiency therefore refers to an impaired immune system.
Acquired : in contrast to an illness which is genetic or hereditary.
AIDS refers to an HIV infection that, over time has progressed such that the immune system is weakened to the point of compromise. This results in a susceptibility to infections and complications that would normally be prevented by a healthy immune system. Secondarily, once several of these infections or symptoms begin to occur together – an individual is considered to have developed AIDS. A person with AIDS, is always infected with HIV, given that it is HIV (the virus) that causes the progression towards the state of AIDS. In contrast, just because you have HIV does not imply that you have AIDS (you are not likely in the advanced stages of infection).
Finally, with respect to the terminology of HIV, you can declare yourself to be seropositive or a person living with HIV. These common expressions are used by people with HIV, regardless of their stage of infection.