BILL LONGCORE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY BILL LONGCORE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
HIV infected T-cell. Coloured Scanning Electron Micrograph (SEM) of HIV viruses budding from the plasma membrane (blue) of a T-lymphocyte, a key cell of the human immune system. The HIV viruses appear as tiny rounded dots (white) on the cell surface. HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the cause of AIDS in humans. The virus attacks T-cells and inserts its RNA genetic material, causing the cell to make more HIV viruses. Progeny of the HIV virus then bud away from the plasma membrane of the host T-cell, which is ultimately destroyed. Destruction of the immune system renders AIDS victims liable to a number of fatal secondary infections.
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