RUSSELL KIGHTLEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY RUSSELL KIGHTLEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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AIDS virus particle, artwork. AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The outer layer of this virus particle is a membrane envelope (green) made from the membrane of the host cell in which this particle developed. The membrane encloses an icosahedral matrix layer, which surrounds the inner genetic core (not seen). Knobs (yellow) allow the virus particle to attach to cells. HIV attacks lymphocyte white blood cells, which play an important role in the immune system. This severely impairs the immune system, allowing normally harmless infections to become life threatening.
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