- Human beings produce antibodies against specific infections.
- When HIV infection takes place, anti-HIV antibodies are produced but they do not appear immediately. This is called the “window effect”.
- In some cases, antibodies to HIV become detectable 4 to 6 weeks after infection.
- When HIV is in circulation, it invades several types of cells – the lymphocytes, macrophages, the Langerhans cells, and neurons within the CNS.
- HIV attacks the body’s immune system.
- The organism attaches to a protein molecule called CD4 which is found in the surface of T4 cells.
- Once the virus enters the T4, it inserts its genetic materials into the T4 cell’s nucleus taking over the cell to replicate itself.
- Eventually the T4 cell dies after having been used to replicate HIV.
- The virus mutates rapidly making it more difficult for the body’s immune system to ‘recognize” the invaders.
- HIV infection progresses through several stages.
- The clinical course of HIV infection begins when a person becomes infected with HIV through:
- sexual contact with infected person
- injection of infected blood or blood products
- Perinatal or vertical transmission.
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