The CDC presented its first definition of AIDS in 1982. The CDC recommended that physicians diagnose AIDS if a person has an illness known to be caused by immune deficiency, as long as there is no known cause for this immune deficiency (people who undergo radiation therapy or who take certain drugs may impair their immune systems). As more information became known about the course of HIV infection and the nature of the virus itself, this definition of AIDS was revised repeatedly to expand the list of illnesses considered diagnostic indicators of the disease. Early definitions were based on the opportunistic infections commonly found in HIV-infected men. As a result, many women who did not have symptoms covered in the official AIDS definition were denied disability benefits and AIDS-related drug therapies.
The current definition of AIDS was created in 1993 and includes 26 opportunistic infections and cancers, known as diagnostic indicators, that affect both men and women. The definition also emphasizes the importance of the level of CD4 cells in the blood (Home Health Aids, Hiv Disease, Woman With HIV, Defining the Illness). Today doctors make the diagnosis of AIDS in anyone with a CD4 count below 200 cells per microliter of blood, regardless of the associated illnesses they may have