Difference Between HIV and Lupus

Lupus & AIDs


What is HIV?

AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and is caused by HIV. The names HIV and AIDS can be confusing because both terms describe the same disease. Think of AIDS as advanced HIV disease. A person with AIDS has an immune system so weakened by HIV that the person usually becomes sick from one of several opportunistic infections or cancers such as PCP (a type of pneumonia) or KS (Kaposi sarcoma, a type of cancer that affects the skin and internal organs in HIV), wasting syndrome (involuntary weight loss), memory impairment, or tuberculosis.

Where did HIV come from?

Scientists identified a type of chimpanzee in Central Africa as the source of HIV infection in humans. They believe that the chimpanzee version of the immunodeficiency virus (called simian immunodeficiency virus, or SIV) most likely was transmitted to humans and mutated into HIV when humans hunted these chimpanzees for meat and came into contact with their infected blood. Studies show that HIV may have jumped from apes to humans as far back as the late 1800s. Over decades, the virus slowly spread across Africa and later into other parts of the world. We know that the virus has existed in the United States since at least the mid to late 1970s.

Symptoms of HIV and AIDS

Some people get flu-like symptoms within a month after they’ve been infected, but these symptoms often go away within a month. You could have HIV for many years before feeling ill at all.

Before you’re diagnosed with HIV, you may get shingles.

Both women and men may get thrush, a kind of yeast infection on your tongue. Women could get severe vaginal yeast infections or pelvic inflammatory disease.

Signs that HIV is turning into AIDS include:

  • A fever that won’t go away
  • Sweating while you sleep
  • Feeling tired all the time, but not from stress or lack of sleep
  • Feeling sick all the time
  • Losing weight
  • Swollen glands in your neck, groin, or underarms
  • Yeast infections in your mouth

Treatments for HIV

Treatment should begin as soon as possible after a diagnosis of HIV.

The main treatment for HIV is antiretroviral therapy (ART), a combination of daily medications that stop the virus from reproducing. This helps protect your CD4 cells, keeping your immune system strong enough to fight off disease.

ART helps keep HIV from progressing to AIDS. It also helps reduce the risk of transmission.

There are more than 25 medications in six drug classes approved to treat HIV. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommends a starting regimen of three HIV medicines from at least two drug classes.

Your doctor will help you choose a regimen based on your overall health and personal circumstances. These medications must be taken consistently and exactly as prescribed. Failure to adhere to therapy guidelines can jeopardize your health.

Side effects vary and may include headache and dizziness. Serious side effects include swelling of the mouth and tongue and liver damage. Some people eventually develop drug-resistant strains of HIV. If you have serious side effects, your medications can be adjusted.

Your doctor may also recommend vaccinations for the following conditions:

  • hepatitis B
  • influenza
  • pneumonia

Treatment for individual symptoms can be addressed as they arise.

To strengthen your overall health, maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep.

What is Lupus?

Lupus is a complex and poorly understood condition that affects many parts of the body. The symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening.

The term “lupus” is most often used to describe a more severe form of the condition called systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). These pages focus on SLE.

However, there are several other types of lupus that just affect the skin, including:

  • discoid lupus erythematosus
  • subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus

Some medications can also cause lupus-like side effects, known as drug-induced lupus.

What Causes Lupus?

The cause of lupus is not known. Research suggests that genes play an important role, but genes alone do not determine who gets lupus. It is likely that many factors trigger the disease.

Treatments for Lupus

Treatment for lupus depends on your signs and symptoms. Determining whether your signs and symptoms should be treated and what medications to use requires a careful discussion of the benefits and risks with your doctor. As your signs and symptoms flare and subside, you and your doctor may find that you’ll need to change medications or dosages. The medications most commonly used to control lupus include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Over-the-counter NSAIDs, such as naproxen sodium (Aleve) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), may be used to treat pain, swelling and fever associated with lupus. Stronger NSAIDs are available by prescription. Side effects of NSAIDs include stomach bleeding, kidney problems and an increased risk of heart problems.
  • Antimalarial drugs. Medications commonly used to treat malaria, such as hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), also can help control lupus. Side effects can include stomach upset and, very rarely, damage to the retina of the eye.
  • Corticosteroids. Prednisone and other types of corticosteroids can counter the inflammation of lupus but often produce long-term side effects — including weight gain, easy bruising, thinning bones (osteoporosis), high blood pressure, diabetes and increased risk of infection. The risk of side effects increases with higher doses and longer term therapy.
  • Immunosuppressants. Drugs that suppress the immune system may be helpful in serious cases of lupus. Examples include azathioprine (Imuran, Azasan), mycophenolate (CellCept), leflunomide (Arava) and methotrexate (Trexall). Potential side effects may include an increased risk of infection, liver damage, decreased fertility and an increased risk of cancer. A newer medication, belimumab (Benlysta), also reduces lupus symptoms in some people. Side effects include nausea, diarrhea and fever.

Difference Between HIV and Lupus

HIV/AIDS can be transmitted through blood-to-blood means and sexual contact. Here are the early common signs of a person with an HIV infection: fever, chills, joint pain, muscle ache, sore throat, sweating at night, enlarged glands, red rash, weakness, and weight loss. You will notice that most of the signs of a person with HIV/AIDS are also present in a person with lupus. To determine which is which, if you have lupus, there should be a butterfly rash on your face which is not present in HIV/AIDS. Like lupus, HIV/AIDS is not curable.

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