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The Relationship between AIDS and HIV

June 7, 2000

The Designation AIDS is a Surveillance Tool

Surveillance definitions of AIDS have proven useful epidemiologically to track and quantify the recent epidemic of HIV-mediated immunosuppression and its manifestations. However, AIDS represents only the end stage of a continuous, progressive pathogenic process, beginning with primary infection with HIV, continuing with a chronic phase that is usually asymptomatic, leading to progressively severe symptoms and, ultimately, profound immunodeficiency and opportunistic infections and neoplasms (Fauci, 1993a). In clinical practice, symptomatology and measurements of immune function, notably levels of CD4+ T lymphocytes, are used to guide the treatment of HIV-infected persons rather than an all-or-nothing paradigm of AIDS/non-AIDS (CDC, 1992a; Sande et al., 1993; Volberding and Graham, 1994).

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