Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
Last reviewed:March 2020
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The retrovirus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and related human immunodeficiency illness. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) [see illustration] was first identified in 1983 and designated as human immunodeficiency virus, type 1 (HIV-1), in 1986. It attacks and weakens the body's immune system. Unless the progression of symptoms is blocked by treatment, it eventually leads to the terminal development of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) in most infected individuals. A second type of the virus, HIV-2, was isolated from AIDS patients in West Africa in 1986 and progresses similarly, but at a typically slower pace. Like other retroviruses, HIV integrates its genetic material into that of the host cell, an infection that typically lasts throughout life and cannot be eliminated. Thus, medical interventions are directed toward maintaining the quality of life of infected individuals and preventing the virus from spreading to others. See also: Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS); Cellular immunology; Clinical immunology; Retrovirus; Virus
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