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human immunodeficiency virus, either of two closely related retrovirusesretrovirus,
type of RNA virus that, unlike other RNA viruses, reproduces by transcribing itself into DNA. An enzyme called reverse transcriptase allows a retrovirus's RNA to act as the template for this RNA-to-DNA transcription.
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 that invade T-helper lymphocytes and are responsible for AIDSAIDS
or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome,
fatal disease caused by a rapidly mutating retrovirus that attacks the immune system and leaves the victim vulnerable to infections, malignancies, and neurological disorders. It was first recognized as a disease in 1981.
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. There are two types of HIV: HIV-1 and HIV-2. HIV-1 is responsible for the vast majority of AIDS in the United States. HIV-2, seen more often in western Africa, has a slower course than HIV-1. There are many strains of both types and the virus mutates rapidly, a trait that has made it especially difficult for researchers to find an effective treatment or vaccine. In many cases, a person's immune system will fight off the invasion of HIV for many years, producing billions of CD4 cells daily, always trying to keep up with the HIV's mutations, before it succumbs and permits the well-known signs of AIDS to develop.

HIV is especially lethal because it attacks the very immune system cells (variously called T4, CD4, or T-helper lymphocytes) that would ordinarily fight off such a viral infection. Receptors on these cells appear to enable the viral RNA to enter the cell. As with all retroviruses, once the RNA is inside the cell, an enzyme called reverse transcriptase allows it to act as the template for its own RNA to DNA transcription. The resultant viral DNA inserts itself into a cell's DNA and is reproduced along with the cell and its daughters. In 2012 the Food and Drug Administration approved a pill that combines two antiretroviral drugs, tenofovir and emtricitabine, for use in preventing infection with HIV, and two years later the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called for the drug combination to be prescribed to uninfected patients who are at risk for AIDS in an effort to reduce number of new HIV infections.

The exact origin of the virus in humans is unclear. Scientists surmise that HIV-1 jumped from African chimpanzees, who harbor a similar strain of SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus), to humans via the butchering of meat or an animal bite. The first case documented in humans dates from 1959, but genetic analysis published in 2008 estimated that it originated some time between 1884 and 1924. A 2014 analysis suggested that the most widespread form of HIV-1 in humans originated in 1920s in what was then the Belgian Congo. AIDS is believed to have spread to the Caribbean in the 1960s and the United States in the early 1970s. The virus was isolated by Luc MontagnierMontagnier, Luc Antoine,
1932–, French virologist, M.D. Sorbonne, 1960. Montagnier was a researcher at the Medical Research Council at Carshalton, London (1960–63), the Institute of Virology in Glasgow, Scotland (1963–65), and the Curie Institute in Orsay,
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 of France's Pasteur Institute in 1983. It went through several name changes before the official name, human immunodeficiency virus, was agreed upon.


References in periodicals archive ?
And the AIDS virus is so complicated that most vaccine research only raises more questions.
The AIDS virus, HIV, even appears to use its envelope proteins to fuse immune cells to each other (SN: 12/19&26/98, p.
Still, the research, published in the journals Science and Nature this week, highlights how rapidly the world of treatment has changed for the million-plus patients in America infected with the AIDS virus.
Mother-to-infant transmission of HIV has dropped so much in cities such as San Francisco that an increasing number of women who carry the AIDS virus - including Marisa's mom - are choosing to have children.
While McFadden believes that HIV and poxviruses infect immune cells in different ways, the AIDS virus also depends upon chemokine receptors, primarily one called CCR5 (SN: 6/22/96, p.
Powerful drugs have reduced the AIDS virus in Magic Johnson's body to undetectable levels, his doctors said Friday.
SAN DIEGO, April 28 (UPI) -- A novel filtration process designed to remove the AIDS virus from human blood has shown excellent promise in a series of pre-clinical trials, according to researchers at Aethlon Medical, an early stage biotechnology firm in La Jolla, Calif.
This unexpected finding may force scientists to rewrite their histories of the AIDS virus and similar viruses because they had considered the HIV protein, named Rev, a recent viral innovation, says Bryan R.
The patients, who took older antiviral drugs, may have fortified the surviving AIDS virus, which subsequently spawned mutations that the earlier drugs missed.
Today the University of Colorado Health Science Center (UC) announced that it had demonstrated in laboratory studies a potentially effective treatment against the AIDS virus using a natural substance called alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAT) which is a naturally occurring component in human blood.
When the AIDS virus bumps into a cell, gp41 changes shape and exposes the pocket as it helps the virus infect the cell.
Morrison will face last-minute replacement Marcus Rhode in a 10-round heavyweight bout on the George Foreman-Crawford Grimsley card Sunday in Japan (Saturday here), almost nine months after he tested positive for the AIDS virus.

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