HIV can be transmitted through sexual contact, intravenous drug use, transfusions and/or from mother to child in placenta crossing or breast-feeding.
The HIV life cycle begins with attachment when the virus binds to the plasma membrane. Secondly, fusion occurs in which the virus fuses together with other membranes and is then allowed access into the cell. Third, uncoating, the capsid and RNA are released. Next reverse transcription. In this stage, the reverse transcriptase copies the retroviruses’ RNA material just as would a DNA copy. After this copy has been created the DNA copy can then replicate and form, a double stranded DNA. This DNA can now integrate by splicing into a host chromosome. The HIV provirus is the form in which most HIV is transmitted from one person to another. Biosynthesis occurs when the provirus is activated and the mechanisms, which usually help in normal cell production, now produces the viral RNA. Some of this RNA creates new virus particles while most brings about the synthesis of viral proteins. Next, the capsid proteins, viral enzymes and RNA come together and create new viral particles and there is now the ability for viral assembly and reproduction. Finally, release of the virus occurs when the virus’s envelope and marker are coded by the viral genetic material.
Drug therapy is done in hopes that the reproduction of this virus can be slowed and eventually halted and reversed. Often these drugs cause many side effects because healthy DNA is also affected while attacking the viral DNA. New drugs, fusion inhibitors try to block HIV’s entry into cells in the first place. Thankfully, drug therapy has proven to decrease chances by 66% that a baby will obtain the virus from the mother during pregnancy.