HIV Virus

Symptoms

A few common symptoms you will have if you are infected with the HIV virus are a fever, headache, and enlarged lymph nodes. Some later symptoms would be rapid weight loss, sores around your mouth or genitals. You may even have red or pink blotches under the skin or inside the mouth.

Causes

HIV can be caused by blood transfusions, sharing needles, having sex, or during pregnancy. This virus cannot be transmitted through ordinary contact such as hugging or shaking hands with someone who has the virus. It also cannot be transmitted through the air, water, or insect bites.

Once the HIV virus is inside of you it destroys your CD4 cell, these are a type of white blood cell that help your body fight disease, as more of these cells are killed your immune system weakens. We your CD4 cell count drops below about 200 your HIV will progress to AIDS or you will experience an AIDS-Defining Illness.

Immune cells involved in immune response

HIV interrupts the immune cycle by directly targeting the T helper cells. Your initial immune response can get rid of a great deal of HIV, but some of it manages to survive and infect these important cells. Once the T- cells are infected they start creating new viruses instead doing the job it is supposed to do in your immune system. In addition, many T- cells are destroyed in the process

How virus replicates

HIV can infect multiple cells in your body including brain cells , but its main target is the T- Cell. The virus goes through multiple steps to reproduce itself in the HIV cycle. There’s binding and fusion, which allows HIV to enter a T- cell and release genetic material into the host. Reverse Transcription, where a special enzyme called reverse transcriptase changes the genetic material so the infection can be integrated with the DNA. Next transcription comes along when the host cell is activated and uses your own enzymes to make more of HIV’s genetic material which allows it to make longer proteins. Assembly, where an enzyme called protease cuts HIV’s longer proteins into individual proteins assembling a new virus. Finally,the final stage budding where the new virus pushes itself out of the host cell taking part of the membrane of the cell.

Treatment

No cure exists yet but, strict adherence to the virus can slow disease’s progress as well as prevent secondary infections. It is treated by using a combination of medicines to fight the disease. This is called antiretroviral therapy. These medicines stop the virus from multiplying and also reduces the risk of transmitting it. This doesnt cure it but, it helps you live a longer healthier life. It's important to start treatment as soon as possible

Prevention

have 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)

Replication

Binding and Fusion: This is the process by which HIV binds to a specific type of CD4 receptor and a co-receptor on the surface of the CD4 cell. This is similar to a key entering a lock. Once unlocked, HIV can fuse with the host cell (CD4 cell) and release its genetic material into the cell.

Reverse Transcription: A special enzyme called reverse transcriptase changes the genetic material of the virus, so it can be integrated into the host DNA.

Integration: The virus’ new genetic material enters the nucleus of the CD4 cell and uses an enzyme called integrase to integrate itself into your own genetic material, where it may “hide” and stay inactive for several years.

Transcription: When the host cell becomes activated, and the virus uses your own enzymes to create more of its genetic material—along with a more specialized genetic material which allows it make longer proteins.

Assembly: A special enzyme called protease cuts the longer HIV proteins into individual proteins. When these come together with the virus’ genetic material, a new virus has been assembled.

Budding: This is the final stage of the virus’ life cycle. In this stage, the virus pushes itself out of the host cell, taking with it part of the membrane of the cell. This outer part covers the virus and contains all of the structures necessary to bind to a new CD4 cell and receptors and begin the process again.
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