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Julianna Dinkha Feb 20, 2017 D.C. Bio

HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is a complicated disease with an interesting history.

It takes hold of over 200,000 people in the United States alone. SIV, or Simian

Immunodeficiency Virus, affects primates like chimpanzees and apes. The two disease are almost the same, with only a few exceptions. Their similarities and differences are what make scientists one step closer to finding a cure. HIV is virus that attacks the human immune system. The immune system is the part of the

body that protects against illness. Because this virus inserts itself into the host cells, it is known as a retrovirus. In this case, the host cells would be T-helper cells, a type of white blood cell found in the immune system. As the T-helper cells make more copies of itself, the immune system will start to break down, making it harder to fight off infections and diseases. The virus is transmitted through contact with infected blood and and other bodily fluids. While there is no cure for HIV, there are treatments that allow those affected to live healthy and normal lives. But

if left untreated, the immune system will break down to a point where it is no longer able to fight

infection and HIV becomes AIDS. AIDS is not a virus, but a set of flu-like symptoms such as fever or fatigue. Failure to treat AIDS will ultimately result in death. HIV originated in the 1920s in what is now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo. People living in the area often hunted and ate chimps, many of which were carrying the simian version of HIV. HIV and SIV similar in that they both target the immune system. There is also

a strain of SIV that is almost identical to a strain found in HIV. There are more than 60 different

HIV-1 strains in the world today. The reason for there being so many strains is because everytime SIV was transmitted to humans, it developed differently within the human body, creating different strains. All of these strains have the same origin. Zoonosis is a type of disease that can be transmitted from an animal to a human. Zoonosis applies to the study of HIV because it was transmitted to humans from chimpanzees. Other modern examples of zoonosis include Ebola and Zika. Like any disease, HIV continues to evolve as time goes on. For this reason, scientist are constantly coming up with new treatments for HIV. Other deadly pathogens, resistance from drugs, and the disease’s origin are clues as to how scientists can not only control the disease, but how they can control its evolution. Studies show that primates are not physically harmed by SIV, they are simply carriers. If primates are able to live long and healthy lives with SIV then humans should be able to do the same with HIV. HIV also happens to evolve very quickly in the human body. So quickly, that it can become resistant to medication. While most of the virus is killed and kept from reproducing, some contain a certain resistance to medication. For this reason, HIV patients are given multiple drugs to take at once to slow down the disease’s evolution.

HIV is a stubborn disease that continues to adapt as humans adapt. Knowledge of the past and the evolution of the human body is the only way for scientist to develop a cure.

humans adapt. Knowledge of the past and the evolution of the human body is the only
humans adapt. Knowledge of the past and the evolution of the human body is the only

Work Cited

Origin of HIV & AIDS. (n.d.). Retrieved February 20, 2017, from

Zimmer, C. (n.d.). HIV's not-so-ancient history. Retrieved February 20, 2017, from