What is HIV?
HIV is the retrovirus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
What is a retrovirus?
A retrovirus carries its genetic material in the form of RNA. With the enzyme reverse transcriptase, the viral genome is converted into DNA. This viral DNA then inserts into the host DNA.
HIV can infect immune system, brain, and other cells.
HIV uses part of the immune system's communications to infect host cells. The key host-molecule is called "CD4", and is found on the surface of many types of cells.
Damage to the host's cells:
- Once established in the host, HIV can take many paths to the destruction of immune system cells, including:
- Syncitium formation
- Digestion by cytotoxic T-cell
- Free gp120 triggers cytotoxic cell digestion
Testing for HIV infection:
Tests detect parts of the HIV particle itself, or host antibodies (triggered by an HIV infection).