How Do I Know if I Have AIDS?

HIV disease becomes AIDS when your immune system is seriously damaged. If you have less than 200 CD4+ cells or if your CD4+ percentage is less than 14%, you have AIDS. If you get an opportunistic infection, you have AIDS. There is an "official" list of opportunistic infections, put out by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The most common ones are:

  • PCP (Pneumocystis pneumonia), a lung infection
  • KS (Kaposi's sarcoma), a skin cancer
  • CMV (Cytomegalovirus), an infection that usually affects the eyes and
  • Candida, a fungal infection that can cause thrush (a white film in your mouth) or infections in your throat or vagina.

AIDS-related diseases also include serious weight loss, brain tumors, and other health problems. Without treatment, these opportunistic infections can kill you.

AIDS is different in every infected person. Some people die soon after getting infected, while others live fairly normal lives for many years, even after they "officially" have AIDS. A few HIV-positive people stay healthy for many years even without taking anti-HIV medications.