HIV Evolves to Evade the Immune System
HIV replicates rapidly with several billion new viruses made every day in a person
infected with HIV. What makes HIV so difficult to stop, however, is its ability
to mutate and evolve.
Reverse transcriptase, the enzyme that makes DNA copies of HIV’s RNA, often makes
random mistakes. As a result, new types or strains of HIV develop in a person infected
with HIV. Some strains are harder to kill because of their ability to infect and
kill other types of cells, while other strains replicate at faster rates. The more
virulent and infectious strains of HIV are typically found in people who are in
the late stages of infection. Different strains of HIV can also recombine to produce
an even wider range of strains. In essence, HIV is constantly changing and trying
to evade the immune system. Its ability to evolve rapidly is one of the major reasons
why HIV is such a deadly virus.
Information published courtesy of NIAID
This article was last modified in: 06/18/2012