BILL LONGCORE / CDC / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY BILL LONGCORE / CDC / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
HIV infected T-cell. Coloured scanning electron micrograph of HIV viruses (white dots) budding from the cell membrane (blue) of an infected T- lymphocyte, a key cell of the human immune system. The AIDS virus known as HIV (Human Immuno- deficiency Virus) has genetic material in the form of RNA. It possesses an enzyme, reverse transcriptase, which enables it to subvert the DNA genetic material of the T-cell in order to replicate more viruses. Progeny of the HIV virus then bud away from the cell 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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