AIDS and Opportunistic Infections

What is AIDS?

AIDS(acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a serious, life-threatening illness caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It is the most severe stage of HIV (Stage 3) . HIV attacks the body's immune system, making the infected person susceptible to other infections called opportunistic infections (OIs) and illnesses, which can lead to AIDS. When a person develops an AIDS-defining illness, they are diagnosed with opportunistic infections (OIs) or, if their CD4 cell count falls below 200 cells per milliliter of blood.

People with AIDS often experience a wide range of symptoms that can make everyday activities very difficult. There is no cure for AIDS, but there are treatments available that can prolong a person's life. With proper medical care, some people with AIDS are able to live long, healthy lives.

What are opportunistic infections?

HIV infection can weaken the immune system, making the infected person more likely to get other infections or illnesses, called opportunistic infections. People with HIV may get opportunistic infections because their bodies can’t fight off infection the way people with healthy immune systems can. HIV-related opportunistic infections range from relatively mild illnesses, such as thrush and vaginal yeast infections, to more serious illnesses such as tuberculosis and certain types of cancer. Many of these opportunistic infections can be prevented with medicine, and some can be cured. However, opportunistic infections are a leading cause of illness and death among people with HIV.

How can I prevent opportunistic infections?

HIV weakens the body's ability to fight off infection, making HIV-positive individuals more susceptible to opportunistic infections. People living with HIV/AIDS are especially vulnerable to these types of infections because their immune system is compromised. However, the following are some important steps that HIV-positive individuals can do to reduce their risk of developing opportunistic infections:

By following these tips, HIV-positive individuals can help prevent opportunistic infections.

Common Opportunistic Infections