is not actually a virus.
It is the disease caused by HIV. In a two-step
process, HIV uses a protein on its surface, gp120, to bind to a pair of
receptors on the surface of T-cells, allowing the virus to enter the cell.
Once inside, the HIV virus fuses with the cellís genetic machinery and
begins to multiply, producing thousands more HIV virus particles. In time,
the T-cell bursts like a seedpod, scattering new HIV virus to infect and
kill other cells. The cycle is then repeated countless times. Once this
happens many times over and the T-cell level drops to a certain point,
the last stage of HIV sets in and an individual is considered to have
AIDS. AIDS is a disease that impairs you immune system by lowering
the lymphocyte count, eventually rendering white blood cell functions
To know if you have contracted AIDS, a blood test is typically
conducted to find out if you have HIV antibodies circulating in your blood.
But, the antibodies may not be present for up to 3 months after transmission,
so you may actually have HIV and still test negative because not enough
time has passed to produce the antibodies.