By Cade Knudson
Causes of HIV
The HIV virus is contracted by contact with someone who has the virus through sex, transfusions of blood that carries the virus, whether it be through shared needles or normal blood transfusions, and can be passed on to child during birth if pregnant.
Upon contractions, the HIV virus attacks what is known as your CD4 cell, which is the cell that produces white blood cells to fight off infection, meaning that the virus targets your immune system. Once the CD4 cell counts drops below 200, HIV will then progress to AIDS (Auto Immune Deficiency).
Symptoms of HIV include fever, headache, and enlarged lymph nodes. Once the disease grows stronger, the symptoms evolve into rapid weight loss and sores on the mouth and genitals. Blotchy skin may also occur.
Replication of HIV
HIV replicates by infecting multiple cells within the body, specifically the T Cells, where it goes through multiple reproduction steps. It starts when the cell binds and fuses to the healthy cell, allowing it to release genetic material into the host cell. It then goes through reverse transcription, where a special enzyme called reverse transcriptase changes the genetic material so the infection can be integrated with the DNA. The next step in the process is called transcription, where the host cell is fooled into making more of the virus' genetic material, using its own enzymes. This prohibits the cell from making proteins. Next comes the Assembly, where an enzyme cuts the longer strands of the virus into individual ones in order to create new viruses. Lastly, budding occurs where the virus bud out and release from its host cell, where they will go on to infect other cells.
Immune Cells Involved in Response
HIV directly interrupts the immune system by targeting the T helper cells. The body's initial response is to get rid of the virus, and to a point is successful, although some of the virus manages to stay behind. Once the T cells are infected, they start creating new viruses instead of working for the immune system, and are eventually killed off by the virus.
Treatment of HIV
Although no cure exists yet, strict adherence to the virus can slow down the evolution of AIDS, as well as prevent further infections. This method is called antiretroviral therapy. These medicines stop the virus from multiplying, and also reduce the possibility of spreading it. Although this treatment doesn't cure it, it can help you live a longer life, but is important to start treatment as soon as possible.
Prevention of HIV
Prevention methods include having less risky sex, get tested/treated for STDs, use a condom, don’t inject drugs (but if you do make sure it's sterile and don’t share it).