Essay by Anonymous UserHigh School, 11th gradeA+, November 1996

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The AIDS virus is one of the most deadly and most wide spread diseases in the

modern era. The disease was first found in 1981 as doctors around the United States

began to report groups of young, homosexual men developing a rare pneumonia

caused by an organism called Penumocystis carini. These patients then went on to

develop many other new and rare complications that had previously been seen only in

patients with severely damaged immune systems. The Center for Disease Control in

the United States named this new epidemic the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome

and defined it by a specific set of symptoms. In 1983, researchers finally identified the

virus that caused AIDS. They named the virus the human immunodeficiency virus, or

HIV. AIDS causes the immune system of the infected patient to become much less

efficient until it stops working altogether.

The first drug that was approved by the American Food and Drug

administration for use in treating the AIDS virus is called AZT, which stands for

azido-thymidine. AZT was released under the brand name of Retrovir and it's chemical

name is Zidovudine, or ZDV. The structural name of AZT is 3'-azido-3'-

deoxythymidine. AZT works by inhibiting the process of copying DNA in cells. More

specifically, AZT, inhibits the reverse transcriptase enzyme, which is involved in the

DNA replication process. When DNA is replicating in a cell, there is a specific enzyme

that works along one side of the original DNA strand as the DNA is split into two

strands, copying each individual nucleotide. This enzyme is only able to work in one

direction along the nucleotide string, therefore a different enzyme, or rather a series of

different enzymes is required to work in the opposite direction. Reverse transcriptase

is one of the enzymes that is required to work...