Are HIV and AIDS the Same? In Short, No


While HIV can lead to AIDS, HIV and AIDS are by no means "the same." HIV is a virus. AIDS is a diagnosed disease that is caused by that virus. A person doesn't need to have AIDS to have HIV, however she does have to carry HIV to have AIDS. 

Experts believe HIV was transferred from monkeys to humans more than 100 years ago in Africa, but HIV wasn't formally discovered until the 1980s, when gay men in New York City began dying from AIDS at an alarming rate and HIV was found to be its cause, according to the Body, a blog for people with HIV/AIDS.

Read more: These Cities Are Taking Action to Take Down HIV and AIDS

Here's a breakdown of the two directly related — but not equivalent — illnesses:

HIV: Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a virus spread through bodily fluids. So, people can develop aids through unprotected sex or sharing needles. Anyone — rich, poor, gay, straight, male, female, transgender, cisgender; has an equal ability to develop it. "It's what you do, not who you are, that puts you at risk for HIV," the Body reminds us. 

Unlike most common viruses, people with HIV can go 10 years without noticing any symptoms of the virus, according to The Body, and once you have it, you have it for life. So, it's important to get tested. Here's how to do that.  

AIDS: People with HIV can for a long time without ever developing Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, according to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Those with HIV develop AIDS when their CD4 cell count — the immune system cells — drops to below 200 cells. 

People with AIDS survive an average of three years without treatment, according to the Centers for Disease Control. "People with AIDS have such badly damaged immune systems that they get an increasing number of severe illnesses, called opportunistic illnesses," the CDC says. "People with AIDS can have a high viral load and be very infectious."