HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus and belongs to the group of retroviruses. When infected with the HIV-1 virus, the virus attacks the immune system by destroying CD4 cells, or the white blood cells that are crucial to fight infection. This destruction makes the body susceptible to life-threatening conditions, such as infections or cancer. HIV belongs to the retrovirus family, a characteristic of which is that there is a long period between an infection and the first symptoms of disease. During an infection with HIV-1, especially the lymph nodes, spleen and thymus are damaged by spreading through the blood, this is called the acute phase. Subsequently, the immune system can recover, so that HIV-1 remains latent in the virus and does not cause any symptoms, HIV can only affect organs. Long-term latent HIV-1 infection can lead to AIDS. The disease AIDS can weaken the immune system to such an extent that life-threatening opportunistic infections can develop.
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