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Risk to others?
Dec 15, 1997

Do any of the HIV related diseases that I see mentioned in

many of the postings here and elsewhere such as MAC, CMV,

PML, etc., pose a risk to people an infected person comes in

contact with? What are these diseases and do they only occur

with full blown AIDS or can they appear at any point from

initial infection on to AIDS. Thank you very much.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question. Opportunistic Diseases are actually an entire group of diseases, so there are actually multiple different answers to this question. By definition, an Opportunistic Disease is one that most often causes illness, in a person whose immune system is damaged or weakened (by AIDS, various forms of cancer, and other causes). In other words, these diseases most often cause illness, given the opportunity of a damaged/weakened immune system. Because these illnesses appear when the immune system is damaged, when they are related to HIV/AIDS, they usually occur years after infection, and are NOT normally associated with recent HIV infection.

GENERALLY speaking, if you are exposed to an opportunistic disease, and you have a fully-functioning immune system, these illnesses will cause few, if any symptoms. If any symptoms are seen at all, they tend to be mild, and of short duration. This is because your immune system is able to successfully fight off the disease, or keep it under control.

Some diseases (like Tuberculosis) can occur in anyone, regardless of their immune status, but are much more likely to cause illness and complications, in persons with damaged/weakened immune systems. In persons with HIV and TB, they still meet the surveillance definition of AIDS, even though, technically speaking, TB is not an opportunistic disease.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to e-mail me at "nvhotline@aol.com" or call me at (Nationwide). I'm glad to help!



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