HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
HIV is a virus that infects and gradually destroys a person’s immune system, reducing their protection against infections and cancers.
Initially, someone living with HIV may show no symptoms of HIV infection as their immune system manages to control it. However, in most cases, their immune system will need help from triple combination anti-HIV drugs (ARVs) to keep their HIV infection under control.
These drugs do not rid the body of HIV infection, though should control it if patients are adherent to the regime for life, taking the medication every day.
AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
AIDS is not a single disease or condition. Instead, it is a term that describes the point when a person’s immune system can no longer cope because of the damage caused by HIV and they start to get one or more specific illnesses.
People do not actually die from AIDS; they die from the cancers, pneumonia or other conditions that may take hold when their immune system has been weakened by HIV.
In medical circles, it is more usual to talk of late-stage or advanced HIV infection.
At the beginning of treatment, the combination of drugs that a person is given is called first line therapy. If after a while HIV becomes resistant to this combination, or if side effects are particularly bad, then a change to second line therapy is usually recommended.
Second line therapy is much more expensive and will ideally include a minimum of three new drugs, with at least one from a new class, in order to increase the likelihood of treatment success. AIDS Ark will typically fund first line therapies only in order to assist as many beneficiaries as possible. Doctors work to transfer existing patients to other organisations should their first line therapies fail. Sadly it is often very hard for them to find alternative sources of second line drugs.