HIV and AIDS Comparing and Contrasting


HIV and AIDS is a disease that affects human beings. HIV is a virus that specifically transmitted through sexual contact, mother to child through during birth, or intravenous drug use using sharp objects (Stolley & Glass, 2009). This paper discusses the pathophysiology, clinical manifestation, nursing and medical management, and prognosis of two diseases: HIV and AIDS.

The pathophysiology of HIV and AIDS

Pathophysiology entails the study of changes in the body, particularly those that take place in response to injury or disease (Kartikeyan, 2007). HIV patients usually show varied signs and symptoms depending on the infection level or stage. In other words, there is no physical finding that is specifically linked to HIV. Those that manifests are usually linked to the illness or infection presenting it. Some of these include: The first stage of HIV infection exposure to the virus is Acute Retroviral Syndrome.

It usually lasts about 6-12 weeks. Close seventy percent of people who are newly infected will always experience flulike symptoms. Some of these symptoms comprise night sweats, generalized rashes, chills, and fevers. Once these symptoms subside, the condition of the person returns to normalcy again (Dore & Cooper, 2001). The second stage is the Asymptomatic Stage. It can last for months or even years.

The person feels well but shows positive when tested for HIV. It is also characterized by swollen lymph glands or simply generalized lymphadenopathy. The third stage is the Early to Medium Stage and is mainly characterized with mild symptoms such as fatigue, generalized skin rashes, night sweats, and loss of weight, fungal skin, nail infections as well as mouth ulcers. Additionally, HIV patients may witness mild cytopenia-like conditions such as leucopenia, anemia as well as thrombocytopenia.

AIDS is the last stage of HIV. It is different from the first stages because of symptomatic. The immune system is highly damaged, affecting its potency to contain the effects of opportunistic diseases. Mostly, it is characterized by the presence of opportunistic diseases or infection, and a low count of CD4 cells normally count below 200 (Lashley & Durham, 2010).

Some symptoms associated with AIDS comprise; shortness of breath and coughing, lack of coordination and seizures, painful or difficult to swallow anything, memory problems or signs of dementia, prolonged and severe diarrhea, loss of vision, fever, nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps; loss of weight and intense fatigue; and severe headaches.

Clinical manifestation in HIV AIDS

A clinical manifestation means a careful examination particularly for the diagnosis of the reality, existence, or presence of premeditated disease. As it has already been discussed under pathophysiology, clinical manifestations are simply detectable or observable signs and symptoms characterizing HIV and AIDS.

For instance, acute seroconversion manifests during early stages of HIV as a flulike condition, such as malaise, fever, as well as skin rashes. In HIV patients, there are observable swollen lymph nodes (Dore & Cooper, 2001). On the other hand, AIDS manifests primarily as severe, recurrent, as well as increased opportunistic infections. Some of the observable signs and symptoms comprise weight loss and chronic diarrhea.

Nursing and medical management of HIV and AIDS

Since the cure is yet to be found; the only available remedy is simply to manage the patient based on symptoms and signs (Lashley & Durham, 2010). Anemia is the most common symptom associated with HIV disease. Nursing guidelines for the disease recommend nutritional observation. EPO therapy is used for moderate anemia and mild asymptomatic anemia. In the case of severe anemia, blood transfusion is recommended.

In most cases, ARVs or highly active antiretroviral therapy is recommended for HIV-infected patients and has managed to control the progression of HIV to AIDS thus preventing AIDS-related symptoms and deaths (Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, 2010). Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy is a blend of many anti-HIV medications. Retrovir has also been used to treat or manage some symptoms associated with HIV illness.

Retrovir acts like an inhibitor (Dore & Cooper, 2001). It thus inhibits the reversal of Nucleoside Transcriptase. It, therefore, manages conditions such as the growth of lymph nodes. ARVs are the newer medications and have the potential to suppress all symptoms associated with the HIV infection.

The primary care, particularly for AIDS patients, is for medical practitioners to identify signs of opportunistic infections through testing in order to contain or minimize related complications and symptoms. Pain has been reported in AIDS patients and is a symptom that requires care and close monitoring.

Blood transfusions have also been used to reduce the viral load in HIV-infected patients (Stolley & Glass, 2009). EPO therapy is the most used as it is safe and known to improve the quality of people suffering from HIV. Pain can be treated through EPO therapy.


Prognosis is the likely course of a disease or the outcome of disease (Nokes, 2002). Normally, detecting the HIV infection and starting antiretroviral therapy early enough can help in delaying its progression to not just AIDS, but related conditions as well. Antiretroviral therapy does not cure the disease but prevents viral replication (Ellison, Parker, & Campbe, 2003). The use of highly active antiretroviral therapy in the U.S. has helped most patients live for many years after infection and diagnosis.

Factors affecting the prognosis of HIV/AIDS

CD4 cell count: Low count normally below 200 is indicative of a poor immunity as well as high chances of getting opportunistic infections. High blood viral load, on the other hand, is indicative of very poor prognosis. The age of the patient also matters. The aged or elderly and infants have weaker immune systems thus are at high risk of a poorer response (Nokes, 2002).

A severe HIV-related condition also predisposes the patient to opportunistic diseases and rapid progression to AIDS or mortality. People with liver or even heart diseases have also been found to be at risk of progression to AIDS or simply show poor prognosis.

Why there has been improved prognosis

One reason is the ready availability of HIV management aspects and medication. Medication such as anti-HIV drugs became available in the mid-1990s, meaning that most people are on drugs and this is evidenced from the fact that the amount of deaths and illnesses caused by the disease has fallen significantly (Nokes, 2002).

Additionally, early detection, as well as routine screening, has resulted in putting people on medication and management early enough, preventing progression to AIDS disease. Maintaining a healthy living standard has also helped in delaying the progression of HIV infection to AIDS, thus improving its prognosis.


HIV infection leads to AIDS if it is not managed well during the early stages of infection. However, when detected early, it can be managed through a number of processes such as the use of ARVs and observance of a healthy living standard. These aspects help in improving the prognosis of HIV and AIDs. As has been established, there is much difference in terms of conditions and even management of both HIV and AIDS.


Association of Nurses in AIDS Care. (2010). ANAC’s core curriculum for HIV/AIDS nursing (3rd ed.). (B. Swanson, Ed.) Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett.

Dore, G., & Cooper, D. (EDs.). (2001). Encyclopedia of Life Sciences: Clinical Manifestations of AIDS. Santa Barbara (Vols. 2). CA: ABC-CLIO.

Ellison, G., Parker, M., & Campbe, C. (2003). Learning from HIV/AIDS. New York, NY.: Cambridge University Press.

Kartikeyan, S. (2007). HIV and AIDS: basic elements and priorities. Dordrecht, Germany.: Springer.

Lashley, F., & Durham, J. (2010). The person with HIV/AIDS: nursing perspectives (4th ed.). New York, NY.: Springer Pub.

Nokes, K. (2002). HIV/AIDS and the Older Adult. New York,NY.: Taylor & Francis.

Stolley, K., & Glass, J. (2009). HIV/AIDS. Santa Barbara, Calif: Greenwood Press.

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