HIV Virus

by Sophia, 4th period


  • Scientific Name: human immunodeficiency virus
  • HIV is a lentivirus, which is a subgroup of retrovirus


The HIV Virus causes an HIV Infection which eventually develops into AIDS, or acquired immunodeficiency disease.

Proteins and Nucleic Acids

The HIV Virus's structure is composed of two copies of noncovalenty linked single-stranded RNA enclosed by a capsid that is made up of the viral protein p24. The RNA is bound to p7 nucleocapsid proteins, late assembly protein p6, and other enzymes such as intergrase.
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HIV infection occurs by the transfer of blood, semen, vaginal fluid, pre-ejaculate, or breast milk. The HIV virus occurs in these bodily fluids and attacks the immune cells. The immune system becomes weakened, allowing for opportunistic infections to occur.
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Mode of Infection

Once the HIV virus enters the body through its bodily fluids, it attaches to a specific type of immune system cell called the dendritic cell. These cells are found in the musosal membranes, or the areas that line the mouth, rectum, vagina, penis, and upper gastrointestinal tract. These cells transport the virus from the site of infection to the lymph nodes where the virus can infect other immune system cells.


The HIV virus replicates by targeting and releasing its genetic material into the CD4 lymphocyte T-cell. Then reverse transcription occurs and the new genetic material becomes integrated into the nucleus of the CD4 cell. This is where the HIV virus remains dormant for many years and stays inactive until it turns into AIDS. When the host cell becomes activated then transcription and assembly of the new proteins occur where the new HIV virus then is released.
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Symptoms of Infection

Symptoms of an HIV infection usually occur within 2 to 4 weeks of the initial infection before the virus goes dormant and in several years becomes AIDS.

These Symptoms Include:

  • having a flu-like illness
  • fever
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • mouth ulcers
  • sore throat
  • body rash
  • fatigue


There is currently no cure for the HIV virus but there are medications and treatments available that allow the HIV dormancy stage to be prolonged before it develops into the AIDS virus.


HIV infection can be prevented by preventing the share of bodily fluids, especially blood and those involved with sexual intercourse.

HIV Prevention

  • safe sex through limiting of sexual partners and/or condom usage
  • never sharing used needles and always using sterile needles
  • get regularly tested for sexually transmitted diseases
  • be aware of your partner's sexual history and if they have any STDS


How HIV infects the body and the lifecycle of HIV. (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2016, from

Rediscovering Biology - Online Textbook: Unit 6 HIV & AIDS. (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2016, from

Symptoms of HIV. (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2016, from