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Difference being being Positive and having AIDS

Aug 8, 2017

I still don't understand the difference or has things changed over the years ? my friend VL was 25 when he was diagnose as having AIDS. Then through the years of treatment.his VL got up to 840 and he is healthy undetectable. Now the same doctor tells him he is now positive and no longer have AIDS. Confusing! can you help?

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Thanks for writing. HIV is the virus which can be transmitted through blood-borne contact (we have HIV tests, not AIDS tests). AIDS is the medical syndrome that can develop once someone has been exposed to HIV, if that development is not controlled. Once someone has moved from HIV to AIDS (more on that in a minute) that person will remain diagnosed with AIDS no matter how high his t-cell count goes.

How does someone move from living with HIV to having a diagnosis of AIDS? There are several ways this can happen. One is for the t-cell count to fall to a certain level (this used to be 200 although the CDC has designations for higher t-cell counts, as well). There are also opportunistic infections which, when occurring in a person with HIV, can be utilized to diagnose AIDS. There are dozens of these and include a certain kind of pneumonia (PCP), a rare cancer called Kaposi Sarcoma, and several types of cancers such as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. You can find more detailed information at this page on HIV.gov.

Hope that helps,

David



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