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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

 Find out about the properties, genetics and diseases caused by HIV- Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

HIV / AIDSHuman immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an RNA virus that causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).


There are two types of HIV virus - HIV 1 and HIV 2 - and they both cause AIDS.

HIV 1 is found worldwide but HIV 2 is found primarily in West-Africa.

Properties of HIV virus:

How HIV started
Source: AIDS.gov
  1. HIV belongs to the lentivirus subgroup of retrovirus family (which is known for causing infections that develp slowly over a long period of time). It can take from a year to 10-15 years to develop AIDS.
  2. Single stranded, RNA, enveloped virus.
  3. Contain reverse transcriptase enzyme.
  4. Not oncogenic but cytolytic.
  5. Incubation period is long: 6 months to 6 years or more.
  6. It has a bar-shaped (type D) core surrounded by an envelope containing virus specific glycoprotein (gp-120, gp-41).
  7. The genome of HIV consist of two identical molecules of SS, positive polarity RNA and is said to be diploid.
Structure of HIV
Structure of HIV. Source: Manipur State Aids Control Society 

HIV kills T cells and monocyes
HIV kills the T lymphocyes. Source: AIDS.gov


HIV is one of the two important human T-cell lymphotrophic retroviruses (HTLV) that preferentially infects and kills helper (CD4) T lymphocytes, resulting in the loss of cell mediated immunity and a high probability that the patient will develop opportunistic infection and malignancy in the long run. Read more about the pathogenesis of HIV here.

Other cells (macrophage and monocyte) that have CD4 proteins on their surface are also infected by HIV.