This article is reviewed, corrected, and approved by: Dr. Benjamin McLean M.D. | FCPS | FRCP | MPH

As the medical community continues to debate HIV and its relation to autoimmune diseases, experts have yet to find a definitive answer as to whether or not HIV is indeed an autoimmune disease.

We will try to examine both sides of the argument and dive into what exactly an autoimmune disease is, how it differs from HIV, and why it's important to know what makes them different. We'll also try to explore is aids an autoimmune disease or not, HIV infection, symptoms, types of HIV, prevention, and treatments available for both.

What is HIV?

T-cells are attacked by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). T cells,  also called CD4 cells) are essential for fighting other infections. The virus infects the body, weakening the immune response.

HIV may pass from one individual to another in a variety of ways.

  • Semen
  • Blood
  • Vaginal fluid
  • Breast milk
  • Other bodily fluids

If the viruses are left untreated, the virus can cause AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).

What Is Autoimmune Disease?

Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease. Credit- ReviewsFellas© 

Autoimmunity is a condition in which the immune system targets and attacks normal cells, organs, and tissues, mistaking them for foreign invaders. The immune system is crucial in the avoidance of many diseases because it defends the body against dangerous organisms like viruses and bacteria.

During autoimmune diseases, however, the immune system is unable to distinguish between healthy cells and harmful invaders, resulting in inflammation and damage to healthy cells.

Some of the autoimmune disorders include the following:

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Hashimoto's thyroiditis
  • Psoriasis
  • Crohn's disease
  • Rheumatic diseases (rheumatoid arthritis icd 10)
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Graves' disease
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Vitiligo
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Sjogren's syndrome
  • Celiac disease.

The majority of autoimmune disorders, or known as autoimmune and systemic diseases,

are chronic conditions that need long-term medical care, although there are treatments that can alleviate symptoms.

Where Did HIV Originate?

HIV's origins and how it infected humans are still a subject of debate. Some scientists believe that HIV originated in primates in Africa and was then transferred to humans through contact with infected blood or tissues. Others believe that HIV may have originated in Europe or the Americas and then spread to Africa through infected individuals.

It is really difficult to determine the exact origins of HIV because the virus has been present in human populations for a long time and has had time to mutate and evolve. However, studying the genetic history of HIV can give us some clues about where it came from.

According to one study, a strain of the chimpanzee-infecting Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) is more closely linked to the HIV strains that are most prevalent in Africa. These strains are not as closely related to other strains of SIV found in other parts of the world. This suggests that HIV may have originated in Africa after transferring from chimps to humans.

More research is needed to determine the true origins of HIV, but understanding where the virus came from is important for developing effective treatments and prevention strategies.

A vial containing blood. Credit- ReviewsFellas© 

However, some evidence suggests that HIV infection can trigger autoimmune responses in the body, although HIV is not an autoimmune disease. A number of HIV-positive individuals have been found to have autoimmune disorders, such as autoimmune hemolytic anemia or AIHA and autoimmune thrombocytopenia (in which platelets in the blood are attacked and destroyed).

HIV infections can also cause chronic inflammation, which may subsequently contribute to the development of autoimmune diseases. Some medications used for treating HIV, such as antiretroviral therapy, may also cause autoimmune-like reactions in some people. It has been shown that antiretroviral medications can cause drug-induced lupus, a condition caused by healthy tissues in the body being attacked by the immune system.

While HIV and AIDS are not autoimmune diseases, there is a clear relationship between the presence of HIV in a patient and the immune activation of his or her immune system. In order to fully understand this relationship and its implications for HIV and autoimmune diseases, more research is needed.

How Do Autoimmune Diseases Differ From HIV?

Autoimmune diseases and HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) are two very different conditions that affect the body in different ways. Autoimmune disorders mistakenly attack healthy cells and tissues, resulting in persistent inflammation and tissue damage and leading to various health complications.

On the other hand, CD4 cells are the cells of the immune system that this virus targets (a kind of white blood cell). While HIV and autoimmune diseases are distinct medical problems, they may both significantly affect a person's health and quality of life. These medical conditions can cause incapacitating symptoms that disrupt daily activities and overall well-being, impacting the affected individual's quality of life.

However, the underlying causes, symptoms, and treatments for these conditions are different, and it is important to seek medical care for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Here are some differences between Autoimmune Diseases and HIV

Autoimmune Diseases



A system that defends the body against pathogens while potentially destroying good tissues and cells.

HIV is a virus that infiltrates and damages healthy cells and tissues, severely impairing the immune system.


Genetic and Environmental factors.

Body fluids include blood, sperm, bodily fluid, and human milk (breast milk).


Fatigue, aches in the joints, rashes on the skin, and organ aggravation.

Flu-like symptoms.


Specific autoantibodies and blood test.

HIV diagnosis (CVS HIV test) is tested by blood or saliva for viral antibodies.


  • Corticosteroids

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or (NSAIDs)

  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs or (DMARDs)

Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), and living a healthy life.

How Does HIV Affect the Immune System?

The immune system is weakened and damaged by the HIV virus, especially T cells or CD4 cells, which are primarily in charge of preventing infections. The HIV virus attaches to CD4 cells and produces copies of itself. Viruses kill CD4 cells and impair the immune system.

HIV is a virus that can progress to the most severe stage, AIDS. As the CD4 cell count goes below 200 cells per mm3, the immune system is severely weakened, putting AIDS patients in danger of deadly opportunistic infections and malignancies.

Although not everyone who contracts HIV develops AIDS, the virus nonetheless weakens their immune system. Those who are HIV positive but receive adequate medical care should expect to enjoy long, healthy lives. Treatment like antiretroviral therapy (ART) is a mixture of medications that suppress the virus and stop its growth, allowing HIV patients to keep their immune systems healthy.

How Does HIV Spread?

A person with blue gloves holding a needle full of narcotics. Credit- ReviewsFellas© 

There are many ways of transmission and spreading of HIV. Let's discover how much HIV can spread

Sexual interaction without protection

A person who has had sexual contact with an HIV-positive individual may transmit the virus through any form of sexual contact. Condoms and PrEP medications (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) can be used to prevent infection.

Sharing injection equipment or needles

HIV can be spread from one person to another in various ways. For example sharing injectable instruments, such as syringes and needles.

Child Transmission via Mother

During pregnancy or after delivery, AIDS or HIV viruses can pass from mother to kid through breast milk. With timely medical help, the increased risk of passing the virus from the mother to the infant could be minimized.

Blood transfusions and organ transplants

Transfusions of contaminated blood or organ donations can transmit HIV (AIDS patients). Nonetheless, this is incredibly uncommon in places where blood and organ donations are thoroughly screened.

Simple gestures such as hugs, handshakes, or sharing cookware do not transmit HIV.

Also, it cannot be transmitted through air, water, or insects that fly. When HIV-positive people get the right treatment and medical attention, they can enjoy a life of health and longevity.

HIV Infection

There is much debate surrounding whether or not HIV is autoimmune or not. Some experts believe that, while others contend that it is not. The main argument against HIV being classified as an autoimmune disease is that the virus does not attack the body or a person's immune system or healthy cells but rather targets cells that are already infected.

However, there are some similarities between HIV and other autoimmune diseases, such as the fact that both involve the body's immune system attacking itself. Moreover, some people with HIV do develop autoantibodies, which are proteins that mistakenly attack healthy cells.

Symptoms of HIV Infection

According to the stage of the infection, HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) symptoms can vary. Symptoms of HIV infection may not present themselves until years after infection. Nonetheless, common cold-like symptoms may occur a few weeks following infection in rare circumstances. Among these signs are:

  • Having a fever
  • Experiencing fatigue
  • Rashes
  • Symptoms of headache
  • Throat infection
  • HIV mouth Sores
  • Lymph nodes swollen

It is possible to experience these symptoms for a few weeks, and then they go away, and they may be mistaken for other viral infections.

After the initial infection, the virus can continue to multiply in the body without causing any symptoms for many years without causing symptoms.

People with HIV may experience other symptoms as the virus continues to attack their weakened immune system, including

  • Continuous temperature elevation.
  • Excessive sweating during the night.
  • Frequent loose bowel movement.
  • Loss of weight quickly.
  • Fungal infections, such as oral thrush.
  • Diseases or abnormalities of the skin.
  • Tiredness.
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes.
  • Persistent infections.

These symptoms are not always caused by HIV, and they may also be caused by other illnesses. HIV can be detected only by testing, so it is important to get tested. A timely diagnosis and proper treatment of HIV can greatly improve quality of life and health outcomes.

Types of HIV

Type-1 HIV

A majority of acute HIV infections worldwide are caused by HIV-1. This strain of HIV is the most commonly found and is known to be highly virulent, progressing faster than HIV-2 and frequently resulting in AIDS. Without proper treatment, it can be fatal.

Type-2 or Stage-2 HIV

HIV-2 is less common, with most cases occurring in West Africa. It is less virulent and progresses more slowly than HIV-1. It is also much less likely to lead to AIDS if left untreated. Keep remembering other variants of HIV, such as HIV-3(AIDS), have been identified but are not yet well understood.

Stage-3 (AIDS)

HIV 3 is known as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). At this point, the virus has done serious harm to the person's immune system, increasing their vulnerability to infections and malignancies.

Treatment of HIV and Autoimmune Disease

Despite HIV's inability to be cured, antiretroviral therapy can suppress the virus and help people living with HIV maintain good health. Certain Autoimmune diseases may be caused by both genes and the environment. In addition to treating symptoms and slowing the progression of autoimmune diseases, there is no cure for this disease.

How To Prevent HIV?

The best way to keep from getting HIV is to engage in safer sexual activity, avoid needles, and get tested frequently. Medications can also reduce your risk of becoming ill if you have been exposed to the virus.

HIV treatment must be started immediately if you test positive. HIV tests are classified as "reactive" or "non-reactive" based on the presence of antibodies that indicate a chronic infection. In a non-reactive test, no antibodies were detected, so it is considered negative.


HIV is not an autoimmune disease. It spreads viruses from person to person. HIV has been a significant problem for world health since the early 1980s. HIV, which advances slowly, has no known cure.

There are treatments available to assist in reducing the development of the disease and avoid significant effects. You need to go to the HIV testing center immediately if you suspect viral exposure. Also, positive behaviors of family and friends help AIDS patients in living a stressless and well-balanced life.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Q: What does HIV stand for?

Ans: An abbreviation for HIV is human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

Q: What is the meaning of HIV non-reactive?

Ans: A non-reactive HIV test result indicates no HIV antibodies or antigens were detected in a blood sample.

Q: What are HIV and AIDS?

Ans: The virus that causes AIDS is known as HIV. HIV can be treated, and AIDS can also be avoided in several cases with early testing and therapy.

Q: Is shingles first sign of HIV?

Ans: Shingles in HIV-positive patients are not a symptom of HIV infection.

Q: What is OraQuick HIV test?

Ans: Oraquick HIV tests blood, saliva, or plasma samples for the presence of HIV antibodies.

Q: What is planned parenthood HIV testing?

Ans: Planned parenthood HIV tests are HIV testing services for individuals or parents who are at risk of HIV infection. Its laboratory-based testing takes 15-20 minutes to get results.

Q: Does hiv transmitted through misquote?

Ans: Mosquito bites do not put you at risk for HIV infection. Because HIV can't be passed from one person to another by mosquitoes because the virus can't multiply inside a mosquito's body.

Q: What does HIV non reactive meaning?

Ans: When an HIV test result is non-reactive, it means no HIV antibodies or antigens are detected in the blood.