In 1959, the first case of immunodeficiency virus to infect a human was documented in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Scientists would go on to theorize that the man contracted what became known as HIV-1 from a West African chimpanzee infected with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), probably from coming into contact with the chimp’s blood while hunting and killing it for meat. Over the next couple of decades, the virus spread through Africa and to other parts of the world, including the United States by the late 1970s. That’s when Kaposi sarcoma and Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia, rare illnesses that do not normally occur in people with healthy immune systems, began occurring in men who have sex with men (MSM) and intravenous (IV) drug users.
In 1982, public health officials adopted the term acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS, to describe these opportunistic infections. A year later, the virus that causes AIDS was discovered and named human T-cell lymphotropic virus-type III/lymphadenopathy-associated virus (HTLV-III/LAV). This unwieldy tongue-twister was later changed to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
HIV is a retrovirus, which means that it converts its RNA into DNA for integration into a host genome. HIV interrupts the body’s immune system. It is spread through blood and blood products, as well as through sexual contact, and can cause AIDS.
After listening to this AudioBrick, you should be able to:
- Define HIV infection and AIDS, and discuss the epidemiology.
- Describe the replication and life cycle of a retrovirus, and describe how HIV infection leads to immune deficiency.
- Describe the presentation of a patient with HIV infection, with and without AIDS, and list common opportunistic infections seen in patients with AIDS.
- Describe the diagnosis of HIV and AIDS.
- Outline therapeutic and preventive approaches to HIV/AIDS.
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