|Description:||Produced by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), this digitally-colorized transmission electron microscopic (TEM) image depicts a single human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), as it was budding from a human immune cell, which the virus infects, and within which the HIV virus replicates itself. Please see the Flickr link below for additional NIAID photomicrographs of various microbes.|
HIV is the virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS. Unlike some other viruses, the human body cannot get rid of HIV. That means that once you have HIV, you have it for life.
HIV is a virus spread through body fluids that affects specific cells of the immune system, called CD4 cells, or T cells. Over time, HIV can destroy so many of these cells that the body can’t fight off infections and disease. When this happens, HIV infection leads to AIDS. Learn more about the stages of HIV and how to tell whether you’re infected.