What's the Difference Between HIV and HPV?

Tech billionaire Bill Gates claimed that President Donald Trump twice asked him to explain the difference between HIV and HPV.

The entrepreneur made the remarks at a recent Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation meeting, which were captured in footage by MSNBC's All In With Chris Hayes.

Recalling the two occasions he met the president, Gates said, "Both times he wanted to know if there was a difference between HIV and HPV, so I was able to explain that those are rarely confused with each other."

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President Donald Trump on May 16. Bill Gates recently claimed that the president asked him to explain the difference between HIV and HPV. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

What is the difference between the conditions underlying these similar acronyms?

When human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, infects a person's body, it destroys T-cells, which play a key role in fighting disease and infection. The reduction of T-cells weakens the immune system and, if left untreated, makes way for opportunistic diseases and infections to take hold. This is a sign that the HIV has developed into AIDS.

There is currently no cure for HIV, although medicine has advanced greatly over the past three decades. It can be managed, and many patients enjoy a long life.

HIV spreads when specific bodily fluids come into contact with a mucous membrane—such as those found in the rectum, vagina, penis and mouth—or damaged tissue in the body, or if it is injected into the bloodstream with a needle or syringe. Semen, blood and breast milk, as well as preseminal, vaginal and rectal fluids, can contain the virus. Sexual contact and sharing syringes are among the most common ways that HIV is passed on.

HPV is an acronym for human papillomavirus and is named after the warts, or papillomas, it can cause. It is an umbrella term for more than 150 viruses, some of which can lead to cancer of the mouth, throat, anus or rectum in both men and women. Men can get penile cancers, while women can develop cervical, vaginal or vulvar HPV cancers.

HPV is spread during vaginal or anal sex and is so prevalent that most people will have it at some point in their life. Nearly 80 million people in the U.S. currently have it. In general, HPV does not produce any signs or symptoms and fades on its own without causing health problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Still, vaccination campaigns among school-age children have been rolled out in the U.S. to slow the spread of the potentially cancer-causing viruses.

What's the Difference Between HIV and HPV? | Health
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