What Is the Precise Definition of AIDS?


Quick Answer

AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection, during which the blood CD4 cell count falls to or below 200 cells per cubic millimeter, or the patient develops one or more opportunistic infections because of an impaired immune system. Treatment options are available for HIV and AIDS, but as of 2015, there is no safe and effective cure, states AIDS.gov.

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Full Answer

Unlike other viruses, human immunodeficiency virus, HIV, is a permanent infection. Occurring before a patient develops AIDS, or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, HIV targets CD4 cells or T cells, which are the immune system cells. Left untreated, HIV destroys body cells that are unable to defend against the attack, and the patient has about a three-year life expectancy, according to AIDS.gov.

A normal CD4 count falls between 500 and 1600 cells/mm3, but when the count reaches 200 or less, the patient is in the final stage of HIV, called AIDS. Not all patients infected with HIV develop AIDS, but those who do develop AIDS need treatment. Once a patient has AIDS, the body is more prone to the development of opportunistic infections, and the life expectancy drops to about one year, according to AIDS.gov.

Daily treatment consists of a variety of medicines in an HIV regimen providing antiretroviral therapy. Keeping up with the daily regimen allows the patient to experience a normal life expectancy, states AIDS.gov.

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