HIV is the causative agent of the disease AIDS (Acqired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). The human immunodeficiency virus (Human Immunodefficiency Virus / HI Virus) is a Retrovirus. Retroviruses are contained in an enveloping protein capsule Ribonucleic acid (RNA).
RNA is a carrier of genetic information that differs from DNA in certain structural features. The DNA is usually double-stranded in cells, while RNA is single-stranded. In addition to this RNA, retroviruses contain an enzyme called reverse transcriptase. This enzyme forms an opposite, i.e. complementary, i.e. mirror-inverted synonymous DNA strand. This is then built into the DNA of the body cell with the help of other enzymes of the virus, which means that the cell now produces its building blocks in the service of the virus.
In this way new viruses are formed at the expense of the host cell, which finally leave the cell to attack other cells.
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HIV (HI Virus) has the peculiarity only very specific cells of Immune system to infect. This is a subclass of the white blood cells, the so-called T lymphocytes, more precisely the T-helper cells. They are an important part of the specific defense that certain recognition structures give to strangers Viruses and bacteria uses to combat this in a targeted manner.
T cells have a mediator function between other important defense cells. However, they themselves carry a recognition structure on their cell surface, which allows the virus to dock and penetrate the cell.
To a lesser extent, other cells are also des Immune system affected. However, the decrease in T cells seems to be decisive for the course, since conclusions can be drawn reliably about the status of the disease by counting the T cells.