The impact and consequences of AIDS/HIV in India

“Whenever AIDS has won, stigma, shame, distrust, discrimination and apathy was on its side. Every time AIDS has been defeated, it has been because of trust, openness, dialogue between individuals and communities, family support, human solidarity, and the human perseverance to find new paths and solutions.” – Michel Sidibé, Executive Director, UNAIDS

What are AIDS and HIV?

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is caused by a virus called HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus. The disease changes the immune system, making people very vulnerable to infections and diseases. This vulnerability gets worse as the syndrome progresses, sometimes with fatal results.

HIV is a virus: Specifically, HIV is the virus, which attacks the T-cells (CD-4 cells) in the immune system.

AIDS is a medical condition: AIDS is the syndrome, which appears at an advanced stage of the HIV infection.

The HIV infection can cause AIDS to develop but it is possible to be infected with HIV without developing AIDS. However, without treatment, the HIV infection can progress and, eventually, develop into AIDS in most cases. Once an AIDS diagnosis is made, it will always be a part of a patient’s medical history.

What causes HIV and AIDS?

A retrovirus that infects the vital organs and cells of the human immune system, HIV develops in the absence of antiretroviral therapy (ART) – a drug therapy that slows, and can prevent, the growth of new HIV viruses.

The rate of virus progression in various individuals differs widely, depending on many factors including:

  • Age

  • The body’s ability to defend itself against HIV

  • Access to healthcare

  • Other infections the patient may have

  • The person’s genetic inheritance

  • Resistance to certain strains of HIV

  • Other factors