How Does HIV Attack Cells?


Quick Answer

HIV attacks cells by destroying T-helper lymphocytes, or T-cells. The human body produces millions of these cells to fight the germs and viruses that cause disease. As the HIV infection advances, it kills more and more of these T-cells, finally rendering the body defenceless against disease, according to Healthline.

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Full Answer

The human immune system is dependent on the healthy functioning of T-cells. Other cells known as CD4+ work in tandem with these T-cells to keep the body healthy and disease resistant. These cells are the body’s defence mechanism against anything that may cause disease, notes Healthline. When HIV, or the human Immunodeficiency virus, gets into the body, it begins to replicate itself. Then, it begins to attack the T-cells and renders the body increasingly defenceless against disease. This occurs because the body no longer has T-cells in sufficient numbers to fight off viruses and germs, states Healthline.

HIV is peculiar in that it does not cause a particular disease but rather attacks the defence cells. This causes other germs and viruses to wreak destruction on the body. The drop in T-cells at the start of a HIV infection is very minimal and barely noticeable. HIV sometimes does not cause a significant decrease in T-cells for periods that may stretch from a few months to a few years, according to Healthline. However, as the infection progresses, the T-cell count dip is very drastic as HIV accelerates the destruction of T-cells. In the advanced stages of the disease, the body becomes vulnerable to even the most commonplace infections.

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