The names HIV and AIDS are often confused, possibly because both terms are used to describe the same disease. Think of AIDS as an advanced stage of the HIV infection. In a person suffering from AIDS, the immune system is compromised by the HIV virus to such a degree that he may fall ill from one or more opportunistic infections. If someone is diagnosed with one of these infections (even if his CD4 cell count is over 200), he is said to have AIDS. AIDS usually takes a long time to develop from the moment that one is infected with the HIV virus — it may take 2 to 10 years, sometimes even more.
A person who is diagnosed with AIDS will be regarded as having AIDS, even if their CD4 cell count increases again or if they recover from the illness that led to the diagnosis of AIDS.
The antiretroviral treatment administered to HIV-positive individuals inhibits the reproduction of the virus inside the body, allowing the individual to have a quality of life and life expectancy nearly equal to that of the general public. It is however imperative to follow treatment properly and to be monitored by a doctor.