The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource
Follow Us Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Download Our App 
Professionals >> Visit The Body PROThe Body en Espanol
Ask the Experts About

Choosing Your MedsChoosing Your Meds
Rollover images to visit our other forums!
  • Email Email
  • Glossary Glossary

recent HIV+ brother
Oct 9, 1996

My brother just tested positive - the doctor estimated he has had the virus for four years. I don't understand the process that his body has gone throughin the last four years and what to expect in the future. In other words,please explain the stage that he is in (still HIV, not AIDS) and what wecan expect to see.

Response from Dr. Cohen

Keep in mind that your brother's doctor's estimate is just that, an estimate. Because people progress at such different rates, and start with very different CD4 cell counts, it's really not possible to accurately estimate the amount of time that someone has had HIV infection based on laboratory tests alone.

The stage of disease is not based on the amount of time you've been infected. It's based on the CD4 cell count and the symptoms or complications of HIV infection that are present. You didn't tell me that information, so I can't comment on his stage of disease. The current stages of HIV infection can be divided up like this:

Acute retroviral syndrome: the illness that some people get within a few weeks of infection.

Asymptomatic HIV infection: the stage that it sounds like your brother is in, when there are no symptoms of HIV infection

Symptomatic HIV infection: formerly known as "AIDS Related Complex" or "ARC." Symptoms include fevers, night sweats, weight loss, oral thrush, diarrhea, to name a few.

AIDS: Defined by either a specific AIDS indicator condition (opportunistic infection or malignancy), OR a CD4 count less than 200.

Some would further break this down and talk about "Advanced AIDS" or "Advanced HIV Infection," which would usually be characterized by a CD4 count less than 50.

I think, though, that you're asking for a prediction of what will happen to your brother and when, and that I can't give you. Let's just say that we can now do more than ever before to delay or halt the progression of HIV disease to more advanced stages.

HIV+ not developing aids
HIV and Hepatitis B

  • Email Email
  • Glossary Glossary



This forum is designed for educational purposes only, and experts are not rendering medical, mental health, legal or other professional advice or services. If you have or suspect you may have a medical, mental health, legal or other problem that requires advice, consult your own caregiver, attorney or other qualified professional.

Experts appearing on this page are independent and are solely responsible for editing and fact-checking their material. Neither nor any advertiser is the publisher or speaker of posted visitors' questions or the experts' material.

Review our complete terms of use and copyright notice.

Powered by ExpertViewpoint