Why did AIDS become known as HIV-AIDS in medical news?

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Offline mariaguimaraes

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Science and medical podcasts often refer to the disease HIV-AIDS. Is there a virological reason for the name of the virus getting stuck to that of the disease, while it doesn't happen to other viral illnesses? Should we say "HAV-hepatitis"?


Offline CliffordK

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Why did AIDS become known as HIV-AIDS in medical news?
« Reply #1 on: 01/12/2011 06:52:01 »
AIDS: Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome
HIV: Human immunodeficiency virus.

AIDS (immune system damage) is the long-term effect of having the HIV virus.  With rigorous treatment, one can essentially postpone the AIDS phase of the disease.  And, thus, a person just remains a carrier of the virus.

Hepatitis is also a term for a disease state, or of liver damage with associated symptoms of jaundice, and sometimes liver failure.

And...  hepatitis can have multiple causes including:
  • Hepatitis A virus (named after the disease)
  • Hepatitis B virus (named after the disease)
  • Hepatitis C virus (named after the disease)
  • Hepatitis D virus (named after the disease)
  • Hepatitis E virus (are there more?)
  • Yellow Fever (named after one symptom of the disease, liver damage, and thus jaundice)
  • and a number of other infectious diseases.
  • It can also be caused by chronic Alcohol Ingestion.
  • Also chronic, high-dose TylenolŪ, perhaps in conjunction with Alcohol
  • and a few other causes...  See Wikipedia above and other web sources

Anyway, even restricting to Hep A, B, C, D, and E, they are each very different viruses, with different modes of infection as well as different acute and chronic phases of the disease. 

So, in fact, people are concerned about the actual type of virus.  And, certainly the actual disease history would be important for knowing things like risk from exposure to blood.

Likewise, though, with HIV, there are two very distinct families of the virus, HIV-1 and HIV-2, with at least different levels of infectivity, and distribution. 

There are many diseases that are caused by a single virus with a much different name from the disease.  For example, both Chickenpox and Shingles are caused by the same virus, varicella, and, of course, both terms are used by both doctors and non-medical people.

Of course, there are many different poxes...  chickenpox, small pox, rubella, measles, etc.

And, note that all drugs also have a "brand name" and an "active ingredient name".  For example, TylenolŪ is Acetaminophen.  And, since it is now available as a generic, technically the generic would not be able to use the trademarked brand name, TylenolŪ.

Anyway...  when AIDS was first discovered, it became obvious that it was "acquired", and an infectious disease.  Perhaps it is unfortunate that the virus was named independently from the symptoms, but it really doesn't make a big difference.  I suppose the other thing that happened was that unlike chickenpox, the name of the virus, HIV was made known to the public, thus using both terms, HIV and AIDS.  Again, part of the reason for this distinction was to differentiate between the virus, and the potential long-term disease state caused by the chronic infection.


Offline Bored chemist

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Why did AIDS become known as HIV-AIDS in medical news?
« Reply #2 on: 01/12/2011 19:30:43 »
Because there are two aspects to the problem.
One is the virus and the other is the symptoms.
If you want to talk about, for example, the damage done to an economy then you need to talk about reducing the number of people infected and keeping them "healthy" with antivirals.
You also need to address the social and political problems which arise from the disease- and which are all too common, particularly among people who don't know about viruses. Looking after the orphans is an issue with AIDS. The price of antivirals is an issue with HIV.
Similar issues occur with other infections but HV/AIDS is different mainly because it's impossible to cure (so far) but it doesn't kill quickly.
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