|Description:||Produced by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), this illustration depicts the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) replication cycle involving a host cell within the human body, beginning with a HIV virion attaching to the host cell wall, dumping its contents into the matrix of the host cell, conversion of the viral RNA to viral DNA, which combines with the host cell DNA, leading to the creation of new viral RNA, which migrates to the host cell periphery, and forms a vacuole around the new viral RNA using the host cell wall, thereafter, budding off as a newly-created mature HIV virion. 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.