|Description:||Produced by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), this illustration depicts the ultrastructural morphology of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), responsible for causing acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or more commonly referred to as AIDS. Features include the internal viral capsid, which contains the viral ribonucleic acid (RNA), and components of the virus’ external lipid membrane. 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.