HIV stands for Human Immonodeficiancy Virus. HIV is a virus that has had deadly, horrible affects on people all over the world. There are two main types of HIV, HIV1 and HIV2. HIV1 is the most common HIV virus, it much more serious and is the one that is referred to most in our society. There is much more known about the HIV1 virus because it has been researched longer than HIV2. Therefore, that is the one that will be discussed here.
HIV is such a horrific virus because it attacks both arms of the human immune system. The human immune system is comprised of two main immune responses:
1. CD4 cells discover antigens in the body and combine with B-cells to make the antibody to neutralize the antigens.
2. CD4 cells signal to the killer T cells (also known as CD8 cells) that there is a foreign antigen. The T cells then recognize the foreign proteins on the exterior of the infected cells, and destroy the foreign virus infected cells.
HIV is able to combat this two part system. First HIV replicates inside the CD4 T cell and kills them. CD4 cells generally are the cells in the body that recognize foreign antigens in the body. When there are decreased amount of CD4 cells, (as in the first attack by HIV) the body's way of discovering disease is gone. So, when the CD4 cells are gone, both arms of the immune system suffer.
It is controversial whether or not HIV should be considered an organism. The technical definition of an organism according to www.wordreference.com is a living thing that has (or can develop) the ability to act or function independently. Some say HIV is not because viruses must depend on its host to reproduce. I am undecided in this argument, but for the sake of this webpage I will call it an organism.
This webpage is part of a project for UW-La Crosse Organismal Biology class. To see more interesting organisms go to www.multipleorganisms.net