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AIDS viruses. Computer illustration of human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV). HIV causes AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) by infecting T-lymphocyte white blood cells (T-cells) of the immune system. The virus' genetic material (light green) is in the form of RNA (ribonucleic acid). It is wrapped in a capsid (protein coat, pink) and envelope (purple). The envelope is studded with surface proteins (mid green) that allow HIV to grab onto and enter the T-cells. HIV then instru- cts them to make more viruses which bud away from the cells, ultimately killing them. With fewer T- cells, the patient becomes vulnerable to formerly harmless infections, a condition known as AIDS.
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