Pathophysiology of AIDS/HIV

  1. Human beings produce antibodies against specific infections.
  2. When HIV infection takes place, anti-HIV antibodies are produced but they do not appear immediately. This is called the “window effect”.
  3. In some cases, antibodies to HIV become detectable 4 to 6 weeks after infection.
  4. When HIV is in circulation, it invades several types of cells – the lymphocytes, macrophages, the Langerhans cells, and neurons within the CNS.
  5. HIV attacks the body’s immune system.
  6. The organism attaches to a protein molecule called CD4 which is found in the surface of T4 cells.
  7. Once the virus enters the T4, it inserts its genetic materials into the T4 cell’s nucleus taking over the cell to replicate itself.
  8. Eventually the T4 cell dies after having been used to replicate HIV.
  9. The virus mutates rapidly making it more difficult for the body’s immune system to ‘recognize” the invaders.
  10. HIV infection progresses through several stages.
  11. 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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