How Does Aids Cause?

AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV is a retrovirus that attacks the immune system, specifically targeting CD4+ T cells, which play a crucial role in coordinating the immune response against infections. Over time, as HIV replicates and damages these cells, the immune system becomes progressively weakened, leading to a state of severe immunodeficiency. This weakened immune system makes the individual susceptible to a wide range of opportunistic infections and certain cancers that a healthy immune system would normally be able to control.

Here’s how the progression of HIV infection and the development of AIDS typically occur:

  • Initial Infection: When a person is exposed to HIV, the virus enters the bloodstream and begins to infect CD4+ T cells, which are a key component of the immune system.
  • Acute HIV Infection: The initial stage of HIV infection is known as acute or primary HIV infection. During this phase, the virus replicates rapidly, and individuals may experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash. Some people may not experience any symptoms at all.
  • Clinical Latency (Chronic Infection): After the acute phase, HIV enters a clinical latency stage, also known as chronic HIV infection or asymptomatic HIV infection. During this phase, the virus continues to replicate at lower levels, and most people do not experience significant symptoms. However, the immune system is continuously under attack, and CD4+ T cell levels gradually decline.
  • Progression to AIDS: Without medical intervention, over time, the immune system becomes severely compromised due to the destruction of CD4+ T cells. As the CD4+ T cell count drops and the immune system weakens, the risk of opportunistic infections and certain cancers increases. When the CD4+ T cell count falls below a certain threshold (usually around 200 cells per microliter of blood) and specific opportunistic infections or cancers develop, the individual is diagnosed with AIDS.
  • AIDS: AIDS is characterized by severe immunodeficiency, and individuals with AIDS are at high risk of developing various infections and cancers that are often rare or uncommon in people with healthy immune systems. These infections and complications can lead to serious illness and potentially death.

It’s important to note that with modern medical treatments known as antiretroviral therapy (ART), HIV infection can be effectively managed. ART helps control viral replication, slows down the progression of the disease, and allows the immune system to recover. With proper treatment and medical care, the development of AIDS can be delayed or prevented, and individuals with HIV can lead long and relatively healthy lives. Early diagnosis, access to medical care, and adherence to treatment are crucial factors in managing HIV infection.