HIV Overview The HIV Life Cycle

(Last updated 9/13/2016; last reviewed 9/8/2016)   Key Points HIV gradually destroys the immune system by attacking and killing a type of white blood cell called a CD4 cell. CD4 cells play a major role in protecting the body from infection. HIV uses the machinery of the CD4 cells to multiply (make copies of itself) and spread throughout the body. This process, which is carried out in seven steps or stages, is called the HIV life cycle. HIV medicines protect the immune system by blocking HIV at different stages of the HIV life cycle. Antiretroviral therapy or ART is the

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