Overview of HIV/AIDS

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) presents a complex knot for scientists to unravel. After initial contact and attachment to a cell of the immune system (e.g. lymphocytes, monocytes), there is a cascade of intracellular events. The endproduct of these events is the production of massive numbers of new viral particles, death of the infected cells, and ultimate devastation of the immune system. However, the knot IS becoming unraveled. These pages attempt to simplify HIV infection at the cellular level. The accompanying diagram shows a number of steps from initial attachment of a viral particle to a lymphocyte through budding of new viruses from that cell.

HIV Infection Sequence

 

HIV Sequence of Infection

1. ATTACHMENT
Getting in

2. REVERSE TRANSCRIPTION 
From viral RNA to DNA

3. INTEGRATION, TRANSCRIPTION 
a. Viral DNA joins host DNA
b. Making multiple viral RNAs

4. TRANSLATION 
Producing viral proteins

5. VIRAL PROTEASE 
Cleaving viral proteins

6. ASSEMBLY & BUDDING 
Getting out

For More Information

Up to date information on the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS is available at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Or find help through the US Department of Health and Human Services at AIDS.gov.