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AIDS virus. Illustration showing the structure of an AIDS virus. AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The core of this HIV virus particle is a capsule containing RNA strands (ribonucleic acid). Around the core is an icosahedral shell of matrix proteins (pink and black). Over this is a membrane envelope (blue bilayer) taken from the membrane of the host cell that made this virus particle. Anchored to the shell are viral knobs (green) that allow the virus particle to attach to cells. AIDS impairs the immune system and allows often fatal secondary infections.
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