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Abstract

This review examines the current state of knowledge about HIV/AIDS in terms of its origins, pathogenesis, genetic variation, and evolutionary biology. The HIV virus damages the host's immune system, resulting in AIDS, which is characterized by immunodeficiency, opportunistic infections, neoplasms, and neurological problems. HIV is a complex retrovirus with a high mutation rate. This mutation rate allows the virus to evade host immune responses, and evidence indicates that selection favors more virulent strains with rapid replication. While a number of controversial theories attempt to explain the origin of HIV/AIDS, phylogenetic evidence suggests a zoonotic transmission of HIV to humans and implicates the chimpanzee () as the source of HIV-1 infection and the sooty mangabey as the source of HIV-2 infection in human populations. New therapies provide hope for increased longevity among people living with AIDS, but the biology of HIV presents significant obstacles to finding a cure and/or vaccine. HIV continues to be a threat to the global population because of its fast mutation rate, recombinogenic effect, and its use of human defenses to replicate itself.

Keyword(s): AIDSHIVSIV
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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev.anthro.30.1.85
2001-10-01
2024-04-16
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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev.anthro.30.1.85
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  • Article Type: Review Article
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