Great question. HIV and AIDS are not the same thing, but people often confuse the terms.
HIV = Human Immunodeficiency Virus
HIV is a virus. When someone contracts HIV, they are HIV positive, because the virus is present in their body. Being HIV positive, doesn’t mean that the person has AIDS (nor does it mean that they will automatically develop AIDS.)
With medication and health care, many Manitobans living with HIV can entirely avoid an AIDS diagnosis.
AIDS = Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
AIDS is a later-stage syndrome caused by the HIV virus. It is characterized by a damaged immunity (low CD4 count), a high viral load, and/or an opportunistic infection. People who develop AIDS are usually not on successful HIV medication yet, or were diagnosed late in their infection, or don’t know that they have HIV. There is medical care and support for people who meet these conditions. And it is possible to improve their health, even if they have advanced to this stage. In fact, The Positve Side has an article featuring a Canadian artist whose health rebounded through medication and healthcare after her AIDS diagnosis.
The Manitoba HIV Program works hard to encourage HIV testing for Manitobans and to connect HIV positive people with the specialized care, treatment and support to keep them in optimal health and to prevent the conditions that would be classified as AIDS.