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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.

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References in periodicals archive ?
Weekes et al., "BNAber: Database of broadly neutralizing HIV antibodies," Nucleic Acids Research, vol.
Of the 486 samples tested, HIV antibodies were detected in 4 samples using SD BIOLINE HIV-1/2 3.0 Rapid test kit.
HIV antibodies test was reported as positive and the patient was referred to a specialized center for HIV management and lost to subsequent follow up.
A serum found to be reactive for Anti- HIV antibodies in all three ELISA/Rapid tests was considered to be positive for HIV antibodies and included in the study group.140 HIV seropositive patients were included in the study group.
If the repeat test also reveals HIV antibodies, it is followed up with a test that checks for the presence of HIV proteins known as the Western blot test.
But while HIV antibodies have been detected since the 1990s, none have had the properties to serve as a cornerstone around which to build a vaccine.
The test uses a swab of oral mucosa--the tissue inside your cheeks--to look for HIV antibodies, proteins that the immune system produces in response to HIV infection.
In Africa, where testing for the HIV antibodies is too expensive, the constellation of symptoms is sufficient to diagnose AIDS.
Among those who donated blood to the Red Cross nationwide in January-June 2008, 58 people tested positive for HIV antibodies. This indicates that 2.316 out of every 100,000 people were infected with HIV, topping the past record of 2.065 reported last year.
Samples were tested for HIV antibodies and the HIV p24 protein (which appears earlier than HIV antibodies in infected people).
Rapid tests use saliva, urine, or finger-prick blood samples to screen for HIV antibodies; sometimes, clients receive results in less than 20 minutes.
The saliva is then tested for HIV antibodies. If the results are negative, the patient is informed by email - usually the next day.