HIV particles, illustration

HIV particles, illustration

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Credit: HARVINDER SINGH/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: HIV particles. Computer illustration of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) particles (virions). HIV causes AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome). The virus consists of an RNA (ribonucleic acid) genome, surrounded by an icosahedral (20-sided) protein nucleocapsid. The whole virus is enclosed in an envelope derived from the host cell's plasma membrane. The envelope has viral proteins integrated into it, including glycoprotein spikes that aid its attachment to host cells. HIV infects the immune system's T-lymphocytes, ultimately killing them, leading to a very weak immune system.

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