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HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. Once the virus has entered the body, it begins to destroy a type of white blood cell called a T-helper cell, also referred to as CD4 cell, and makes copies of itself inside them.
The T-helper cell is an important component of the immune system, which is our body’s natural defense against microbes. Therefore, if a person becomes infected with HIV, it will be harder for them to fight off infections and diseases. Many people living with HIV do not have any symptoms, they don’t look or feel sick.
But if HIV is left untreated and the immune system is weakened, opportunistic infections or cancers can develop. These co-infections and co-morbidities are signs that the person has developed the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), their immune system is damaged and their vulnerability towards opportunistic infections is increased. Click here to learn more about Viral loads and CD4 counts.