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INTRODUCTION The topic of this paper is the human immunodeficiency virus HIV and whether or not mutations undergone by the virus allow it to survive in the immune system The cost of treating all persons with AIDS in 1993 in the United States was 78 billion and it is estimated that 20000 new cases of AIDS are reported every 3 months to the CDC This question dealing with how HIV survives in the immune system is of critical importance not only in the search for a cure for the virus and its inevitable syndrome AIDS Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome but also so that over 500000 Americans already infected with the virus could be saved This is possible because if we know that HIV survives through mutations then we might be able to come up with a type of drug to retard these mutations allowing the immune system time to expunge it before the onset of AIDS BACKGROUND In order to be able to fully comprehend and analyze this question we must first ascertain what HIV is how the body attempts to counter the effects of viruses in general and how HIV infects the body Definition HIV is the virus that causes AIDS HIV is classified as a RNA Retrovirus A retrovirus uses RNA templates to produce DNA For example within the core of HIV is a double molecule of ribonucleic acid RNA When the virus invades a cell this genetic material is replicated in the form of DNA But in order to do so HIV must first be able to produce a particular enzyme that can construct a DNA molecule using an RNA template This enzyme called RNA-directed DNA polymerase is also referred to as reverse transcriptase because it reverses the normal cellular process of transcription The DNA molecules produced by reverse transcription are then inserted into the genetic material of the host cell where they are co-replicated with the hosts chromosomes they are thereby
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