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The Effects of HIV Mutations on the Immune System The topic of this paper is the human immunodeficiency virus HIV andwhether or not mutations undergone by the virus allow it to survive in theimmune system The cost of treating all persons with AIDS in 1993 in theUnited States was 78 billion and it is estimated that 20000 new cases ofAIDS are reported every 3 months to the CDC This question dealing with howHIV survives in the immune system is of critical importance not only in thesearch for a cure for the virus and its inevitable syndrome AIDS AcquiredImmunodeficiency Syndrome but also so that over 500000 Americans alreadyinfected with the virus could be saved This is possible because if we knowthat HIV survives through mutations then we might be able to come up with atype of drug to retard these mutations allowing the immune system time toexpunge it before the onset of AIDS BACKGROUND In order to be able to fully comprehend and analyze this question we mustfirst ascertain what HIV is how the body attempts to counter the effects ofviruses 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 thecore of HIV is a double molecule of ribonucleic acid RNA When the virusinvades 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 particularenzyme that can construct a DNA molecule using an RNA template This enzymecalled RNA-directed DNA polymerase is also referred to as reversetranscriptase because it reverses the normal cellular process oftranscription The DNA molecules produced by reverse transcription are theninserted into the genetic material of the host cell where they areco-replicated with the hosts chromosomes they are
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