The structure of HIV1

HIV-1 is a retrovirus and belongs to the family of lentiviruses. Infections with len-tiviruses typically show a chronic course of disease, a long period of clinical latency, persistent viral replication and involvement of the central nervous system. Visna infections in sheep, simian immunodeficiency virus infections (SIV) in monkeys, or feline immunodeficiency virus infections (FIV) in cats are typical examples of lentivirus infections.

Using electron microscopy, HIV-1 and HIV-2 resemble each other strikingly. However, they differ with regard to the molecular weight of their proteins, as well as having differences in their accessory genes. HIV-2 is genetically more closely related to the SIV found in sootey mangabeys (SIVsm) rather than HIV-1 and it is likely that it was introduced into the human population by monkeys. Both HIV-1 and HIV-2 replicate in CD4+ T-cells and are regarded as pathogenic in infected persons, although the actual immune deficiency may be less severe in HIV-2-infected individuals.

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