What is the virology of HIV?

Updated: Mar 05, 2020
  • Author: Delia M Rivera, MD; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
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HIV is a retrovirus. Structurally, a lipid bilayer envelope surrounds the cylindrical core of HIV, which contains the RNA genetic information and the machinery that promotes viral replication and integration during initial cellular infection. From the outside, the virion appears spherical, with a diameter of 110 nm.

HIV has a variety of structural and nonstructural proteins that determine the interaction of the virus with the host's immune system and cellular components. The genome layouts of HIV-1 and HIV type 2 (HIV-2) are shown in the image below.

Genome layout of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV Genome layout of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–1 and HIV-2.

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