A virus is a microscopic organism that infects the host cells of other organisms. Viruses are nonliving, as they have no membrane or cells parts, and can cause diseases by the route of coughing, sneezing, or coming into contact with contaminated items. There are two types of viruses, bacteriophages, or phages, and retroviruses. Retroviruses consist of a single strand of RNA, and infect host cells by turning their RNA into DNA. Phages infect host cells by inserting their DNA into host cells by the process of either the lytic or lysogenic cycle.
HIV Family HIV, which stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is a virus that weakens a person’s immune system, killing off Helper T cells that are meant to fight off infections in the body. HIV is “grouped to the genus Lentivirus within the family of Retroviridae, subfamily Orthoretrovirinae” (Gurtler et al., 2016). Lentiviruses consist of viruses that are slow and remain in a person’s body for a long period of time (Mestrovic, 2014). This genus belongs to the Retroviridae family, which is split into two subfamilies, Orthoretrovirinae and Spumaretrovirinae.Spread of HIVThe spread of HIV is not as common as those of other viruses. It is not spread by the route of sneezing, coughing, etc. HIV is transmitted through certain bodily fluids.
These include “blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk” (hiv.gov, 2017). In order for a person to become infected, a person with HIV must transmit the disease to another individual through the mucous membrane, or damaged tissue in the body. Needles containing HIV positive blood may also be able to infect an individual if it is injected directly into the bloodstream. (hiv.org, 2017). HIV is able to be spread through sexual activity because mucous membranes line the vaginal wall of women, and the urethra, or tip of a man’s penis. Therefore, unprotected sex is the main cause in the spread of HIV.
How The Spread of HIV Can Be Prevented The spread of HIV can be prevented by using condoms when engaging in sexual activity, and also limiting the amount of sexual partners one has. It is recommended for those who partake in sexual activities to get tested for the virus, ensuring safety and reducing the chance of transmitting HIV to other sexual partners. One can also avoid contaminated or used needles, as infected HIV blood that is injected into the bloodstream is another way that the disease can be transmitted.
How HIV Attacks the BodyAs inferred by the name, HIV attacks a person’s immune system. After entering the body, the virus begins to attack one’s CD4 cells, or Helper T cells. These are, essentially, white blood cells, and are responsible for immune responses such as fighting off infections. Not only does HIV attack Helper T cells, the virus manipulates the cell to make more copies of itself (healthline.com). Because these Helper T cells are being attacked and being taken over by the virus, the body’s immune system begins to weaken, and is not as proficient in fighting off infections. For this reason, those with HIV are prone to infections and usually die from not being able to properly fight them off.
TreatmentHIV causes the disease AIDS, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, which is diagnosed when HIV has attacked enough Helper T cells to the point where one’s body and immune system are severely weakened. Those diagnosed with AIDS are extremely prone to infections such as tuberculosis, certain types of pneumonia, meningitis, encephalitis (kidshealth.org). HIV, however, is not a death sentence. There are many people who live their lives with HIV and are moderately healthy. ART, antiretroviral therapy, is suggested for all those diagnosed with the HIV, and is the standard treatment for treating the HIV virus. ART is a combination of several medicines that work to slow down the rate at which the virus spreads itself in the body.
With this, those infected with HIV can live long and healthy lives because the therapy slows down the rate at which HIV attacks their immune system.Conclusion HIV is an immunodeficiency virus that causes the disease AIDS. HIV is a type of retrovirus that changes the DNA of its host cell into RNA. Although there have been many death as a result of the virus, with proper medication people are able to live long and healthy lives. HIV can be prevented by having protected sex and limiting sexual partners.