Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that establishes latent infection in humans. The latency period varies in duration but eventually ends in depletion of CD4+ T lymphocytes, secondary immunodeficiency and death from opportunistic infections. The virus is a RNA virus with envelope and glycoprotein spikes protruding from it. The envelope glycoprotein plays an essential role in viral entry into the host cell. In addition, it is an important factor in the capacity of the virus to escape the immune system forming the so called ‘glucan shield’ that protects the virus from destruction. Both dendritic cells and B cells can carry the infectious virus on their surface as they travel to T lymphocyte rich lymphoid organs and spread the infection through their interaction with T cells. HIV has caused a worldwide epidemic that is currently kept under control with retroviral therapy in the developed world but has devastated large portion of the African continent. Tremendous efforts were put forward by the world research community to develop vaccine against HIV that resulted in moderate to poor protective efficacy of vaccine candidates.
Keywords: HIV, AIDS, Gag, Pol, Env, gp120, CD4+, retrovirus, Vpu, Vif, Vpr, Nef, Tat, Rev, epidemic, latent, virion, budding, escape, immunosupression, glycan shield, HERVs, V1/V2 loop, V3 loop, V4 loop, V5 loop, bridging sheet, gp41, viremia, viral load, depletion of CD4, DC-SIGN, glycosylation, polyclonal activation, complement, seroconversion, CCR5, CXCR4, Tregs