False-colour transmission electron micrograph of a virus that is the causative agent of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). The spherical virus is 100-120 nanometers in diameter. The virus (designated HIV or HTLV-III/LAV) destroys T-lymphocytes, key cells in the body's immune response to infection. A disabled immune system renders the sufferer vulnerable to fatal opportunistic infections such as Kaposi's sarcoma (a type of skin cancer) and a normally rare type of pneumonia caused by the protozoan, Pneumocystis carinii. Transmission of the virus is by sexual contact & through contaminated blood products. HIV Human Immunodeficiency Virus HTLV-III/LAV Human T-cell Lymphotropic Virus type.
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