Essay on An Analysis of Human Immunodeficiency Virus

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An Analysis of Human Immunodeficiency Virus


In 1983, scientists led by Luc Montagnier at the Pasteur institute in France, first discovered the virus that causes AIDS. They called it lymphadenopathy-associated virus (LAV). A year later, Robert Gallo and Marvin Reitz of the United States, confirmed the discovery of the virus and they named it human T lymphotrphic virus type III (HTL V-III). In 1986, both names were dropped in favour of the term human immunodefifciency virus (HIV).

AIDS is thought to have originated in sub-Saharan Africa during the twentieth century. By the end of 2004, it was estimated that 40 million people were currently living with HIV. Women account for 46%
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This recognition of HIV coreceptors and progress in understanding how HIV fuses with the cell has opened up new possibilities for antiviral drugs. A number of new agents are being designed to prevent infection by blocking fusion of HIV with its host cell.

Following fusion of the virus with the host cell, HIV enters the cell. The genetic material of the virus, which is RNA, is released and undergoes reverse transcription into DNA. An enzyme in HIV called reverse transcriptase is necessary to catalyze this conversion of viral RNA into DNA. Once the genetic material of HIV has been changed into DNA, this viral DNA enters the host cell nucleus where it can be integrated into the genetic material of the cell. The enzyme integrase catalyzes this process, once the viral DNA is integrated into the genetic material of the host: it is possibe that HIV may persist in a latent state for many years.

Activation of the host cells results in the transcription of viral DNA into messenger (mRNA), which is then translated into viral proteins. The new viral RNA forms the genetic material of the next generation of viruses. The viral RNA and viral proteins assemble at the cell membrane into a new virus. Amongst the viral proteins is HIV protease, which is required to process other HIV proteins into their functional forms.
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