What is HIV?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. The term immunodeficiency means a weakened immune system. So, HIV is a virus that infects cells of the human's immune system. People who have been infected with HIV are called HIV-positive (HIV+) or ODHA (Orang dengan HIV/AIDS; People with HIV/AIDS) in Indonesia.
HIV is not the same with AIDS. HIV is the name of the virus that cause AIDS while AIDS is a chronic condition of a person who is infected by HIV.
AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome or a collection of syndrome caused by a deficiency of immune cells. If HIV goes untreated, the virus infection will cause symptoms that can be serious enough to be life-threatening. This worrying advanced-stage condition of HIV infection is called AIDS.
HIV is virus that weakens your immune system – which is the body's natural defenses against diseases. Although the immune system is supposed to protect people from infection, HIV can pass through the defense and attack your body from within. If your immune system becomes weak enough, you can easily get sick from other infections. Generally, if a person has been infected with one or more of these infections, then it can be said that he/she has got to AIDS stage.
What is the genetic material of HIV ?
HIV is a retrovirus-type virus – it is one of a classification of viruses which consist of two identical strands RNA (not DNA) which form DNA replica of its RNA by using the reverse transcriptase enzyme after infecting a cell. This virus primarily attacks the CD-4 positive T-cells and macrophages which are the main components of the immune system. An infection of this virus will cause a decline of these main components of the immune system which then will lead to immune deficiency.
In other words, HIV is a virus whose genetic material is an RNA enclosed by a matrix composed mostly by protein. To grow, this genetic material needs to be converted into DNA, integrated into the host's DNA, and then undergo a process that would eventually produce proteins. These proteins produced by the process will then form new viruses. From the time since the virus's entrance to the human body, it will begin to damage the white blood cells (which play a role in the immune system).
The immune system is considered deficient when it can no longer fight infections and diseases. So, a person with a weakened immune system will become vulnerable to various infections/ diseases that a normal immune system can usually fend off. Infections or diseases that affects people with an immune deficiency are called ‘opportunistic infections' – because those infections take advantage of the time when the immune system is weakened.
There are no clear explanations about the origin of HIV. Based on information acquired, the first case of HIV infection was discovered in a blood sample of a man from Kinshasa in Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1959. However, it is unknown how he could be infected with the virus
How HIV works ?
As mentioned before, HIV is a type of retrovirus. Compared to other type of virus, HIV consists of three enzymes that play a role in the process of virus replication. Reverse transcriptase enables the virus's RNA strand to be transcribed into the host cell's DNA, endonuclease enables the RNA-transcribed DNA to be fused with the host cell, and protease allow the virus to be matured at the final stage of the virus multiplication inside the host cell. This process led every single cells infested by the virus to produce new viruses instead of creating new immune cells
The Stages of HIV Infection
The development of HIV infection can be divided into four main phases:
||Seroconversion phase, which is the stage where the virus enter the body
||Asymptomatic phase, which is the stage where the virus started to replicate, but there is no apparent symptoms from outside. At this stage, the body started to create an antibody for fend off HIV.
||Symptomatic phase, which is the stage where the symptoms of a weakened immune system started to emerge.
||AIDS stage, which is the syndrome stage where opportunistic infection has started to appear.
WEAKNESSES OF HIV
Does HIV have weaknesses? Yes, it does. Here are it weaknesses :
||HIV will die after several minutes exposed to setting outside its wet habitat. The virus can survive longer in a damp place with high enough humidity.
||HIV destroyed by temperature 60 degree Celsius and above.
||Most household cleaners like soap or bleach will kill HIV.
||HIV life-cycle started with its virus particle (virion) being attached to a receptor in the surface of the host cell, such as CD4, CXCR4 and CCRS. HIV targets are dendritic cells, T-cells, and macrophages. However, the human immune system not only consisted of those three cells. So, there is still a chance for the human immune system to kill the virus by activating B-cells and Natural Killer cells – which destroy any cells that does not send any safe signal.
For Javanessia, it means :
HIV can still be fought by the human immune system itself if the virus' genetic material RNA can be detected by the defense cells. For that purpose, a substance that could dismantle the protein shell that protect the virus inside the body and makes it vulnerable to attacks from B-cells, natural killer cells, and any other body's defense mechanism is needed. Remember, any choices of that substance need to be safe for other cells that are needed by human body.
Translated by : Khairina Widyanti