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Inside the Life-Threatening HIV Virus

Author: Hanah Gomberg

Editors: Kira Tian and Liane Xu

Artists: Tiffany Chen

The HIV virus was first isolated and identified in 1983 by scientists at the Pasteur Institute in France. Through the use of techniques in use prior to the HIV epidemic, researchers were able to culture T cells from lymph node biopsies from a 33-year-old French patient with symptoms that preceded AIDS, such as lymphadenopathy.

Falling under the category of “retrovirus”, HIV is an RNA virus. Rather than carrying DNA, retroviruses carry single-stranded RNA in their genetic material. Retroviruses are also able to reverse transcriptase, which enables them to copy RNA into DNA and are used to perform mitosis and infect host cells.