How HIV works: latest news

How HIV works resources

  • Health issues

    If you are ‘HIV positive’ this means that you have a virus called HIV in your body. It doesn’t mean that you are ill, or that...

    From: Booklets

    Information level Level 2
  • HIV lifecycle

    HIV is a virus. Viruses are microscopic germs that are unable to reproduce (replicate) by themselves. Instead they need to find and infect a cell...

    From: Factsheets

    Information level Level 2
  • Viral load

    Viral load is the term used to describe the amount of HIV in a body fluid. Viral load tests measure the amount of HIV in...

    From: Factsheets

    Information level Level 2
  • HIV, the basics

    Key facts about HIV, AIDS, transmission, testing and treatment....

    From: Living with HIV

    Information level Level 2
  • Primary infection

    The first few months following infection with HIV are known as primary HIV infection, or acute HIV infection. During this initial stage of HIV infection,...

    From: Factsheets

    Information level Level 2
  • Very recent infection

    During the first few weeks after becoming infected with HIV, your body's immune system is working out what HIV is and how to get it...

    From: The basics

    Information level Level 1
  • Drug resistance

    It's important to always take your HIV treatment at the right times and in the right amounts. If you don't, HIV may become drug resistant.When...

    From: The basics

    Information level Level 1
  • Myths and facts

    There's a lot of misunderstanding and HIV and AIDS. Not everything you hear about HIV and AIDS is true.Some of the myths are about how...

    From: The basics

    Information level Level 1
  • Transmission facts

    HIV can only be passed on when one person's body fluids get inside another person. HIV can be passed on during sex without a condom,...

    From: The basics

    Information level Level 1
  • Better off knowing

    The sooner you know you have HIV, the sooner you can get the right medical care. If you know you have HIV, you can take...

    From: The basics

    Information level Level 1
  • HIV and the immune system

    The immune system is the body’s natural defence system. It’s a network of cells, tissues and organs inside the body.The immune system recognises and fights...

    From: The basics

    Information level Level 1
  • How treatment works

    HIV treatment helps you stay well by reducing the amount of HIV in your body. All anti-HIV drugs try to prevent HIV infecting new cells,...

    From: The basics

    Information level Level 1
  • Introduction to HIV and AIDS

    An introduction to HIV and AIDS, including how HIV is transmitted and detected, the history of the epidemic and definitions of disease stages....

    From: HIV treatments directory

    Information level Level 4

How HIV works features

How HIV works in your own words

  • Seroconversion

    I was given my diagnosis over the telephone after spending four days in hospital with meningitis. I now realise it wasn’t meningitis, it was an...

    From: In your own words

How HIV works news from aidsmap

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How HIV works news selected from other sources

  • HIV RNA lingers in CSF through up to 10 years of suppressive ART

    HIV RNA remained detectable at low levels in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of almost 20% of patients who had HIV RNA levels below 40 copies/mL for up to 10 years of antiretroviral therapy (ART). The investigators believe their finding indicates that the central nervous system (CNS) can be an HIV reservoir during suppressive ART.

    28 October 2014 | International AIDS Society
  • How HIV co-opts gut bacteria to pose as a familiar infection

    One of the most effective methods used by HIV to evade control is to hide from the immune system. B-cells are crucial for controlling new infections, producing specific antibodies to attack it, which coat the surface of infected cells and tag them for destruction. But according to a study from Duke Medicine, published in Cell Host & Microbe, when HIV enters and begins replicating in the gut, the reaction of B cells is ineffective because the virus is able to pose as a “good” bacterium. Its gp41 surface protein - which is displayed on the surface of infected cells - looks like surface proteins on the cells of friendly gut bacteria.

    21 August 2014 | The Conversation UK
  • First glimpse of how HIV swamps the gut's immune cells

    We've been given the first glimpse of HIV in attack mode in the gut, shedding light on how the virus hijacks immune cells, multiplies and spreads throughout the body. A team of biochemists have used electron tomography microscopes to capture the high-resolution, 3D images.

    31 January 2014 | New Scientist
  • Discovering where HIV persists in spite of treatment

    Recently discovered T memory stem cells may be long-term viral reservoir, potential targets for future treatment.

    13 January 2014 | Harvard Gazette
  • How HIV Destroys Immune Cells

    HIV leads to AIDS primarily because the virus destroys essential immune cells called CD4 T cells, but precisely how these cells are killed has not been clear. Two papers published simultaneously today (19 December) in Nature and Science reveal the molecular mechanisms that cause the death of most CD4 T cells in lymphoid tissues, the main reservoir for such cells, during infection.

    20 December 2013 | The Scientist
  • Rift widens over structure of HIV’s molecular anchor

    Studies of a potential vaccine target bolster claims that an earlier paper was flawed.

    05 November 2013 | Nature
  • Bursting HIV’s bubble

    HIV has a fatty outer membrane similar to that surrounding a living cell. This membrane probably acts like a balloon—in other words the pressure inside it is greater than the pressure outside it. That means it can be burst, which is what some scientists believe provides the driving force by which a virus injects its genetic material into a cell in order to infect it.

    18 October 2013 | The Economist
  • Gene discovery could lead to new types of HIV treatments

    Scientists have identified a gene which they say may have the ability to prevent HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, from spreading after it enters the body. In an early-stage study in the journal Nature, researchers said the gene, called MX2, appears to play a key role in how HIV is controlled in human cells.

    19 September 2013 | Reuters
  • Changes in Gut Bacteria May Promote Inflammation and HIV Disease Progression

    Changes in intestinal bacteria may contribute to disease progression and development of non-AIDS conditions in people with HIV, even those on effective antiretroviral therapy (ART), according to a report in the July 10, 2013, issue of Science Translational Medicine.

    25 July 2013 | HIVandHepatitis.com
  • GHANA: Mold Toxins Tied to AIDS Epidemic

    A new study has examined the impact of aflatoxins on the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Aflatoxins are poisons produced by aspergillus fungi that can be found on damp grains, nuts, and beans, usually in hot humid climates. They have also been found to be immunosuppressive, possibly causing increased immunosuppression in HIV-positive individuals.

    24 July 2013 | CDC National Prevention Information Network
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Our information levels explained

  • Short and simple introductions to key HIV topics, sometimes illustrated with pictures.
  • Expands on the previous level, but also written in easy-to-understand plain language.
  • More detailed information, likely to include medical and scientific language.
  • Detailed, comprehensive information, using medical and specialised language.