HIV in blood. Artwork showing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in blood serum. HIV (centre, pink) is the virus that causes AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome). The surface membrane of HIV is studded with gp4 and gp120 glycoproteins (red). These are able to bind to target receptors on T-lymphocyte cells (T cells). Once attached, the virus injects its RNA (ribonucleic acid) into the cell where it replicates, eventually killing the cell. Decline in T cell numbers severely compromises the immune system, exposing the patient to other infections such as pneumonia.
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