A Banner Publication
June 7, 2007 – No. 10
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Structure of HIV

Source: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

HIV is a retrovirus that invades the body’s white blood cells, incorporates its own genome, and commandeers the body’s immune system. HIV targets CD4 or helper T cells that are responsible for fending off viruses, bacteria and fungi that cause disease. HIV multiplies very quickly and overwhelms the helper T cells leaving the body susceptible to certain types of cancers and opportunistic diseases — infections, such as pneumonia, that a normally functioning immune system can easily overcome.

If left unchecked, HIV can eventually result in full-blown acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS, the final stage of HIV infection.