According to Sax, Cohen, and Kuritzkes (2014), this disease has resulted in the population losing economically active workers. The Human Immunodeficiency The Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a human viral infection that affects the immune system.


Sax, Cohen, & Kuritzkes (2014) write that human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) affects the body defense system against infections and is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that infects the human body and in some cases lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Summers & Karn (2011) states that in the initial infection stage, an infected individual will experience a brief period of influenza-like symptoms which disappears and is followed by a prolonged period where the individual displays no symptoms. The illness will then progress and at some point when it interferes with the immune system by weakening it and exposing the host body to infections such as opportunistic infections. In the words of Fan, Conner, & Villarreal (2014), the virus can be transmitted from person to person during oral, anal, or vaginal sex. Fan, Conner, & Villarreal (2014) adds that it can also be spread while sharing body piercing, tattoo, or drug use equipment. In addition, an infected pregnant mother can spread the virus to the infant during childbirth, pregnancy, and breastfeeding. The virus once inside the body, it attacks and weakens the immune system. Therefore, the infected person becomes vulnerable to several infections.

Causes of Human Immunodeficiency Virus

According to Malani (2016), research has found two viruses that are related to the viral infection. Malani (2016) lists HIV-1 and HIV-2 as the two viruses that belong to the retroviruses family. According to Sax, Cohen, & Kuritzkes (2014), the HIV-1 virus is the predominant type that is common in most parts of the world. On the other hand, HIV-2 is commonly found in West Africa. The two types of viruses can insert their unique genetic material into the human genetic material present in the body cells, and they infect the host body throughout their life since there exists no cure for the infection. Infected people have their body defense systems weakened and damaged by the virus. Their immune system can no longer fight off infections, and they develop one or more particular illness at a stage that they are diagnosed as having AIDS. However, Playfair & Bancroft, (2013) state that infected people under treatment programs tend not to develop AIDS.

The virus in the human body is caused by passing it from an infected person to another healthy person through sexual contact, and several other means (Maartens, Celum, & Lewin, 2014). The virus is present in both women and men, and they can transmit it either through heterosexual or homosexual sex. According to Fan, Conner, & Villarreal (2014), people with the HIV will feel and look healthy and therefore, they cannot be determined by their physical looks. In addition, these individuals will also transmit the virus to other people without them knowing they are infected. Transmission of the virus occurs when the breast milk, blood, anal, vaginal, semen, or pre-ejaculation fluids of an infected person finds its way through an opening in the body of an uninfected person. A person who is exposed to any of the above ways is likely to be infected. Maartens, Celum, & Lewin (2014) transmission of the virus will be determined by factors such as the concentration of the HIV virus in the body fluids.

Malani (2016) writes that the risk of transmission of the virus will also depend on the stage of infection that the infected person is in. According to Sax, Cohen, & Kuritzkes (2014), the levels of the virus in the blood and other body fluids is very high when an infected individual has been infected with the virus recently or when the individual is in the late stages of the disease generally in the AIDS stage. Malani (2016) argues that in the early stages, the virus multiplies rapidly since the body defense system has not yet responded and fought back the infection. In the late stage, Summers & Karn (2011) writes that the virus multiplies rapidly since it has been able to destroy the immune system. The vulnerability to infection by the virus especially through sexual contact is increased when one has sores around the rectum, mouth, and on the genitals. These sores according to Playfair & Bancroft (2013), may be due to other sexually transmitted infections or rough intercourse.

The virus is a protein-coated mass of genetic materials that becomes live when it invades a human host. According to Sax, Cohen, & Kuritzkes, (2014), the virus is approximately 120 times smaller than the white blood cells, and when it invades these cells, the virus replicates itself hundreds of times until the white blood cell can no longer contain the viruses. As time progresses, the virus copies spread through the host body and infect more and more white blood cells. Gradually, the viruses destroy the immune system of the host body that it can no longer protect the body and the infection leads to AIDS.

Once inside the human bloodstream, the virus particle attaches itself to cells that have a particular kind of molecule called CD4 on their surface (Summers & Karn, 2011). The white blood cells which are primarily responsible for directing the defense system of the body against any invaders have the CD4 receptor molecules. The virus will then inject its contents into the white blood cell and may lay dominant inside the cells for many years. Eventually, the material will begin to multiply using the host cell as a manual on how to create copies of the HIV manual. As new virus particles are released into the bloodstream Fan, Conner, & Villarreal (2014) state that they trigger the formation of more particles, and their numbers grow and infect the white blood cells or the CD4+ cells.

In conclusion, the HIV virus can be only be confirmed to be present in the body through a test. The test should be carried out often even if one does not display symptoms especially after having unprotected sex when one is planning a pregnancy or sharing of needles and other injecting equipment. The test checks the body antigens and antibodies in the blood. Activities such as sharing towels, cutlery, cups, the toilet sits, swimming pools, coughs, sneezes, kissing, and hugging with infected persons does not cause HIV. Finally, the virus is not spread through animal and insect bites such as mosquitoes.


Fan, H. Y., Conner, R. F., & Villarreal, L. P. (2014). Aids: Science and society. Burlington, Mass: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Maartens, G., Celum, C., & Lewin, S. R. (January 01, 2014). HIV infection: epidemiology, pathogenesis, treatment, and prevention. The Lancet, 384, 9939, 258-271.

Malani, P. N. (July 12, 2016). Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Jama, 316, 2, 238.

Playfair, J. H. L., & Bancroft, G. J. (2013). Infection and immunity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Sax, P. E., Cohen, C. J., & Kuritzkes, D. R. (2014). HIV essentials. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Summers, M. F., & Karn, J. (January 01, 2011). Special issue: Structural and molecular biology of HIV. Journal of Molecular Biology, 410, 4, 489-90.

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