Date Published: February 17, 2004
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Partial Text: Of the 300 or so viruses that cause disease in humans, HIV may have the greatest adaptive advantage. Like most persistent viruses—including the herpesviruses Epstein–Barr and cytomegalovirus (CMV)—HIV employs various strategies to counteract its host’s response to infection. But HIV possesses a unique ability to sustain a progressive attack on the immune system—infecting the very cells that coordinate the immune response—leaving the body susceptible even to normally harmless microorganisms. It is these so-called opportunistic infections, rather than the human immunodeficiency virus itself, that makes HIV so deadly. The specific mechanisms that engineer this ongoing systemic attack have been the subject of intense research.