Medical Definition of Human immunodeficiency virus

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Human immunodeficiency virus: HIV, the cause of AIDS. HIV has also previously been called the human lymphotropic virus type III, the lymphadenopathy-associated virus and the lymphadenopathy virus. No matter what name is applied, it is a retrovirus. (A retrovirus has an RNA genome and a reverse transcriptase enzyme. Using the reverse transcriptase, the virus uses its RNA as a template for making complementary DNA which can integrate into the DNA of the host organism). Although the American researcher Robert Gallo at the National Institutes of Health believed he was the first to find HIV, it is now generally accepted that the French physician Luc Montagnier (1932-) and his team at the Pasteur Institute discovered HIV in 1983-84.

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Reviewed on 12/12/2018

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