Topics: HIV, AIDS, Immune system Pages: 16 (4570 words) Published: May 8, 2013
What is AIDS?

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a lentivirus (slowly-replicating retrovirus) that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive (1). A virus is a piece of genetic material, RNA or DNA, surrounded by a protein coat. To replicate, a virus must infect a cell and direct its cellular machinery to produce new viruses. A virus cannot reproduce without infecting a cell. Viruses prey upon all living organisms, turning them into virus Xerox machines. Unlike a bacterium or a cell of an animal, a virus lacks the ability to replicate on its own. A virus does contain some genetic information critical for making copies of it-self, but it can't get the job done without the help of a cell's duplicating equipment, borrowing enzymes and other molecules to concoct more virus. HIV is a RNA virus, which means the virus instructions are stored in strands of RNA – not in strands of DNA. A RNA virus is a Retrovirus. In order for the virus to take over the cell, it must copy the RNA instructions into DNA instructions (own words out of Microbiology book) Lentivirus (lente-, Latin for "slow") is a genus of viruses of the Retroviridae family, characterized by a long incubation period. Lentiviruses can deliver a significant amount of viral RNA into the DNA of the host cell and have the unique ability among retroviruses of being able to infect non-dividing cells. (2) AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) refers to any number of severe physical manifestations resulting from HIV infection.

H - Human: because this virus can only infect human beings. I - Immune-deficiency: because the effect of the virus is to create a deficiency, a failure to work properly, within the body's immune system. V - Virus: because this organism is a virus, which means one of its characteristics is that it is incapable of reproducing by itself. It reproduces by taking over the machinery of the human cell.

A - Acquired: because it's a condition one must acquire or get infected with; not something transmitted through the genes I - Immune: because it affects the body's immune system, the part of the body which usually works to fight off germs such as bacteria and viruses D - Deficiency: because it makes the immune system deficient (makes it not work properly) S - Syndrome: because someone with AIDS may experience a wide range of different diseases and opportunistic infections. In the early stages, an HIV positive person looks and feels perfectly healthy and is able to continue with all normal day to day functions. Over a period of time (4-8 years on average) as the virus starts multiplying in the body, the immune system becomes weak and the body becomes susceptible to various diseases.

That is the time when the person is said to have AIDS. Clinically, a person is said to have AIDS when they have HIV and another infection, called an “opportunistic infection” and/or their crucial immune cell (CD4+) count falls below 200cu/mm. As a result, AIDS is a condition caused by HIV. (Research Paper Florida Hospital of Altamonte Springs about AIDS).

Symptoms of AIDS:

Primary HIV Infection
A person may be infected with HIV but not know it, because many people who are infected do not have any symptoms for several years after getting infected. Primary HIV infection refers to the very early stages of HIV infection, or the interval from initial infection to the time that antibody to HIV is detectable. During this stage of HIV infection, patients typically have some symptoms of acute HIV seroconversion illness, very high HIV RNA levels of >100,000 copies/mL, and negative or indeterminate HIV antibody tests. The diagnosis of patients with primary HIV infection is a clinical challenge because the symptoms of primary HIV are often absent, mild, or...
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