The Course of HIV Infection

The early symptoms of HIV infection resemble the flu in about 70% of infected individuals (there are no noticeable symptoms in the remaining 30%). These symptoms occur because the HIV present in the bloodstream is destroying large numbers of T4 cells, thus interfering with normal immune responses. Most people infected with HIV begin to control the virus within six to 12 weeks, and therefore recover from these flu-like symptoms. This seeming recovery from the infection is due to the actions of the immune system.

Among the pool of immune-system cells, particular lymphocytes recognize antigens that are present on HIV particles. T lymphocytes that have an HIV-anti-gen receptor are stimulated to reproduce so that a large number of cells are available to patrol the bloodstream for signs of the virus. (Note that the CD4+ receptor, which HIV binds to in order to enter T4 cells, is not an antigen receptor.) B lymphocytes that have an HIV-antigen receptor are also stimulated to divide and will produce anti-HIV antibodies, proteins that bind to and help


Asymptomatic phase

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