Owen Clinic
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About HIV

What is HIV?

It's a virus that was first observed in the U.S. in 1981. HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This virus attacks the immune system and, over time, progressively damages the cells of the body. The body becomes vulnerable to infection and has problems combating other viruses.

What is AIDS?

AIDS is the illness caused by HIV. AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It's the very advanced stage of HIV. Your illness is called AIDS when your immune system declines (CD4 /T-cell less than 200) or because of a cancer or infection that's more advanced because of your damaged immune system due to HIV.

Why do they always talk about CD4/T cells?

CD4 cells are T-helper cells that play an important role in HIV infection because they are in charge of fighting off infections in our body. You could think of CD4 cells like the general responsible for leading your immune system to war against infections and cancers that enter our bodies. In order to treat an HIV-positive person, doctors measure the number of CD4 cells in the blood or CD4 count. This measurement can tell them how strong the immune system is and the stage of HIV. Keeping a high CD4 cell count can reduce risk of infection and prolong people's live.

Learn more about CD4/Tcells