What is HIV

Essay by southsidetbirdHigh School, 10th gradeA+, February 2004

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Are you the next victim of the HIV virus? What really is HIV and why is it so important for us to know about?

HIV has a very complex yet simple structure. It consists of a flexible outer membrane, which surrounds the protein shell known as a capsid. The membrane is filled with glycoproteins. Inside the capsid there are two strands of RNA, which are identical in every way. The RNA is what stores the information to infect the HIV virus. HIV also contains an enzyme called reverse transriptase. That's just the basic structure of the virus.

What HIV does is it breaks down a person's immune system. When the virus infects a cell the reverse transriptase duplicates the information in the RNA and makes complementary strands. HIV attacks your white blood cells. It attaches itself to the white blood cells and then allows the virus to enter your body.

Being HIV positive and having AIDS are two different things. Being HIV positive means that the virus is in you but it hasn't reached the infectious stage of having Aids yet. An Aids is the disease that slowly destroys the bodies immune system.

Some ways you can treat aids is with a special drug. Some people who have HIV can prevent themselves from getting Aids by taking this drug. Sadly the drug doesn't work for all people. Each person needs a different treatment. Although they have found a drug to prevent it, it's not possible to diminish the disease or cure it. You'll be with it for the rest of your life if you do get it.

So why don't we just try to stop AIDS form spreading by not having sex without a condom. Or even waiting until you get married and are able to be tested. Another...