Definition and Causes of AIDS

The AIDS virus was discovered and reported by Luc Montaigner of France in 1983. AIDS is a disease caused by the HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). The specific viral disease is called HIV/AIDS, for there are other reasons for a suppressed immune system. Congenital inherited immune deficiencies, exposure to radiation, certain forms of cancer and cancer chemotherapy, alkylating agents, also produce AIDS-like symptoms. After gathering data from AIDS patients between 1981 to 1993, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) diagnose AIDS as:

For an adult (1987 CDC Definition of AIDS)

A. Without laboratory evidence for HIV infection:

- Lymphoma of brain (<60 years of age)

- Lymphoid interstitial pneumonitis (<13 years of age)

B. With laboratory evidence for HIV infection:

- Disseminated coccidioidomycosis

- HIV encephalopathy

- Isosporiasis (persisting > 1 month)

- Lymphoma of brain (any age)

- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (B cell or undifferentiated)

- Recurrent Salmonella septicemia

- Extrapulmonary tuberculosis

- HIV-wasting syndrome

- Recurrent bacterial infections (<13 years of age)

- Disseminated histoplasmosis

*1993 AIDS surveillance case definition

- Candidiasis of bronchi, trachea, or lungs

- Candidiasis, esophageal

- Cervical cancer, invasive

- Coccidioidomycosis, disseminated or extrapulmonary

- Cryptococcosis, extrapulmonary

- Cryptosporidiosis, chronic intetinal (> 1 month duration)

- Cytomegalovirus disease (other than liver, spleen, or nodes)

- Cytomegalovirus renitis (with loss of vision)

- HIV encephalopathy

- Herpes simplex: chronic ulcer(s) (> 1 month duration); or bronchitis, pneumonitis, or esophagitis

- Histoplasmosis, disseminated or extrapulmonary

- Isosporiasis, chronic intestinal (> 1 month duration)

- Kaposi's sacroma

- Lymphoma, Burkitt's (or equivalent term)

- Lymphoma, immunoblastic (or equivalent term)

- Lymphoma, primary in brain

- Mycobacterium avium complex or M. kansaii, disseminated or extrapulmonary)

- Mycobacterium tuberculosis, disseminated or extrapulmonary

- Mycobacterium, other species or unidentified species, disseminated or extrapulmonary

- Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia

- Pneumonia, recurrent

- Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy

- Salmonella septicemia, recurrent

- Toxoplasmosis of brain

- Wasting syndrome due to HIV


Children with AIDS may have infectious diseases that are not covered by the adult CDC AIDS definitions. Thus children under 15 months are classified separately from older children because passive maternal antibodies may be present.

To be HIV-Infected, children under 15 months must:

- Show HIV in blood and tissues

- Show evidence of humoral and acquired immune deficiency and have one or more opportunistic infections associated with AIDS

- Show other symptoms meeting the CDC definition of AIDS

To be HIV-Infected, children between 16 months abd 12 years must:

- Show 1 and 3 above

- Show HIV antibodies