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HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) Infection - What Happens

AIDS (stage 3)

AIDS occurs when the CD4+ cell counts drop below 200, the percentage of CD4+ cells is less than 14%, or an AIDS-defining condition is present.4

If HIV isn't treated, most people get AIDS within 10 to 12 years after the initial infection. With treatment for HIV, the progression to AIDS may be delayed or prevented.

After your immune system starts to weaken, you are more likely to get certain infections or illnesses, called opportunistic infections. Examples include some types of pneumonia or cancer that are more common when you have a weakened immune system.

A small number of people who are infected with HIV are rapid progressors. They develop AIDS within a few years if they don't get treatment. It is not known why the infection progresses faster in these people.

Left untreated, AIDS is often fatal within 18 to 24 months after it develops. Death may occur sooner in people who rapidly progress through the stages of HIV or in young children.

Nonprogressors and people who are HIV-resistant

A few people have HIV that doesn't progress to more severe symptoms or disease. They are referred to as nonprogressors.

A small number of people never become infected with HIV despite years of exposure to the virus. These people are said to be HIV-resistant.

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 13, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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