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Author: Sophia Tutorial

This lesson will explain the causes and effects of HIV and AIDS as well as discuss various treatments of the disease.

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What's Covered

This lesson is going to cover HIV and AIDS by looking at:

  1. HIV and AIDS
  2. Replication
  3. Transmission
  4. Treatment

1. AIDS and HIV

HIV which stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a virus that causes the disease AIDS and AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

Terms to Know

    • HIV
    • A virus that causes the disease known as AIDS.
    • AIDS
    • A disease with no known cure that attacks a person’s own immune system.

HIV attacks the immune system and kills lymphocytes, such as helper T-cells. It also attacks macrophages and dendritic cells, which are another part of your body's immune system. It leaves your body vulnerable to infection and rare forms of cancer.

HIV is also a retrovirus; this means its genetic information is in the form of RNA instead of DNA. What happens is that the virus will insert its genes into a person's DNA and replicate in that way.

Term to Know

    • Retrovirus
    • A virus whose genetic information in in the form of RNA rather than DNA.

Once a person becomes infected with the HIV virus, the immune system will at first react normally. This virus will replicate so quickly that eventually the body is not able to keep up with it. The HIV virus actually produces billions of new viruses each day within your body's helper T-cells. At first, the person will experience various minor infections as a result of the number of helper T-cells dropping, but eventually, once that number of helper T-cells gets too low, it leaves your body susceptible to more serious diseases.

2. Replication

HIV is a virus that has proteins all over its coat. Within the virus is viral RNA and a viral enzyme. This viral enzyme is called reverse transcriptase. Viral RNA along with reverse transcriptase will produce viral DNA which will mix with the DNA of the host cell. The DNA then will be transcribed to produce new viruses.

Big Idea

The HIV virus is going to enter into the lymphocyte, and the RNA of the virus will mix with the DNA of the host cell. Then what's going to happen is that DNA is going to be transcribed. Once that DNA is transcribed, it's going to produce new virus particles. The virus particles will be assembled from viral RNA and proteins. The virus is infecting healthy cells using the cell's DNA in order to produce more viruses.

3. Transmission

HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids, especially blood and semen, but other bodily fluids can also transmit this virus as well. It can enter the body through any sort of cut or abrasion. Oftentimes it's spread sexually or by sharing needles. It can also be passed from mother to child through childbirth or through breastfeeding.

Africa right now is the continent that has the highest population of infected people worldwide.

4. Treatment

HIV and AIDS are hard to treat for a few reasons. It mutates rapidly and develops resistance to drugs very easily, and it injects its own RNA into the host cell's DNA. It is not possible to remove the HIV genes from someone else's DNA.

There is no cure for HIV and AIDS, but there is a treatment that can slow the process down. It includes a cocktail of drugs which involve:

  • A protease inhibitor, which blocks the action of HIV protease. HIV protease is an enzyme that is required to make new viruses.
  • Two anti-HIV drugs.


HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a virus that causes AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. HIV is a retrovirus that attacks a person’s immune system. It replicates in the body’s own T-cells and does so quickly. Viral RNA and a viral enzyme work together to create viral DNA which intermingled with a person’s own DNA, and will create new viruses. HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids. Modes of transmission can include sexual contact, sharing needles, childbirth, or breastfeeding. There is no known cure for HIV or AIDS, but there is a cocktail of drugs that can be used for treatment.

Keep up the learning and have a great day!


Terms to Know

A disease with no known cure that attacks a person’s own immune system.


A virus that causes the disease known as AIDS.


A virus whose genetic information in in the form of RNA rather than DNA.