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Opportunistic Infections

In health, our immune system successfully suppresses the growth of bacteria, funguses and viruses that are normally present in our bodies and environment. But when the immune system is weakened by HIV disease or by some medications, it creates an opportunity for these germs to get out of control and cause infections.

Infections that take advantage of a weakened immune system are called opportunistic infections. The abbreviation 'OI' is commonly used when referring to them. OIs with HIV are more prevalent when the CD4+ counts drop significantly, reflecting a weakened immune system. The diagnosis of AIDS is generally considered when a CD4 count drops below 200 or an AIDS-defining OI develops.

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