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The Nature of HIV and the Implications of its Evolutionary Origin on Treatment - Research Paper Example

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The Nature of HIV and the Implications of its Evolutionary Origin on Treatment Name Subject Teacher Date               Outline I. Structure II. Process of Entry into The Cell A. Transmission B. Reverse Transcription and Integration C. Transcription and Translation D…
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The Nature of HIV and the Implications of its Evolutionary Origin on Treatment
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Download file to see previous pages The Vaccine Hypothesis The Nature of HIV and the Implications of Its Evolutionary Origin HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is the cause of one of the most lethal diseases known to infect humankind – AIDS. According to information from the National Institutes of Health, AIDS accounted for 1.8 million deaths worldwide in 2009 alone with 33.3 million already suffering from the disease and 2.6 million who were newly infected (“Quick Facts,” 2011). In the United States alone, 1 million people are currently living with AIDS and 21% of those infected remain unaware of their condition (“Quick Facts,” 2011). Furthermore, an alarming fact based on information from One.org states that around 4,900 people die from AIDS everyday and that 7,100 are infected at the same rate (“HIV/AIDS,” 2012). It is also very sad that those affected by HIV are mostly the youth aged 15 to 24 years old (“AIDS, Sex and Teens,” 2010). Based on the previously stated statistics and information, there is every reason to worry about AIDS epidemic. Most of the responsibility of controlling the spread of the virus rests upon the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the governments of the world. Nevertheless, efforts to develop a cure for AIDS have proved to be fruitless. What is the main reason behind this and what is the missing link, that somehow makes medical experts and scientists keep losing the battle against AIDS and prevents them from developing a good treatment for it? An insight into the evolutionary origin of HIV provides answers to the questions about AIDS that have baffled everyone since the 1970s when the disease first broke out. Structure HIV usually infects the human host cell as an aggregate of virions or “roughly spherical particles” (Noble, n.d.). These particles, whose surfaces are studded with multiple spikes, are coated with a fatty material called the viral envelope, and it is this specific structure that facilitates entry of the virion into the cell (Noble, n.d.). HIV differs from other viruses in that its genes are made up of RNA, or ribonucleic acid, whereas other viruses have DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, in their genetic structure (Noble, 2010). The fact that it is RNA, and not DNA, that constitutes the main genetic material of HIV implies a relatively more complex process of replication compared to other viruses, as well as a natural tendency of HIV to engage in a rather continuous replication inside the host cell because of the “long terminal repeat” in RNA (Noble, n.d.). Another characteristic feature of HIV is its simplicity of structure, which accounts for it “rapid rate of evolutionary change” (Rambaut et al., 2004). The fact that HIV is structurally simple and that it evolves rapidly means that it can readily develop resistance against any treatment and that it immediately develops a new lineage of resistant virions (Rambaut et al., 2004; “HIV: The Ultimate Evolver,” 2001). However, in order to fully understand how rapidly HIV evolves in the host cell, one needs to know how exactly the virus enters the cell. Process of Entry into The Cell According to CDC, HIV is transmitted through contact of mucous membrane, damaged tissue or blood with infected fluids, which can be any of the following: blood, semen, breast milk, vaginal secretions, body fluids that contain blood, as well as fluids that surround the brain, the spinal cord, bone joints and the unborn baby (“ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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