What is HIV?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This virus attacks the immune system, which is human body’s natural defence against illness.
HIV is a complex retrovirus that belongs to the Retroviridae family. It is an RNA virus which uses its characteristic reverse transcriptase enzyme to convert its RNA genetic material into DNA before being introduced into a host cell’s genome. The virus destroys the T-helper white blood cells which are also referred to as CD4 cells in the immune system and multiplies inside these cells. It is the virus that causes AIDS.
What is AIDS?
AIDS stands for Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome. AIDS occurs as HIV multiplies in an infected person, it damages or kills the T-helper white cells, weakening the immune system and leaving the person vulnerable to infections and severe illnesses called opportunistic infections.
AIDS is the most severe phase of HIV infection. Someone is diagnosed with AIDS only when begins to experience one or more of these conditions or loses a significant amount of immune cells.