Any of various strains, serotypes, or clades of HIV-1 and HIV-2 that infect and destroy helper T cells of the immune system causing the marked reduction in their numbers that is diagnostic of AIDS — called also AIDS virus, human immunodeficiency virus.
(abbreviation for human immunodeficiency virus) The infectious agent that is believed to cause AIDS.
It was first discovered 1983 by Luc Montagnier of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, who called it lymphocyte-associated virus (LAV). Independently, US scientist Robert Gallo, of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, claimed its discovery in 1984 and named it human T-lymphocytotrophic virus 3 (HTLV-III).
Research during 1995 into how fast the HIV virus reproduces, estimated that a billion new viruses are produced in the body daily, and that 2 billion white blood cells are destroyed every 24 hours. HIV is genetically very variable as a result of this rapid proliferation; an HIV carrier can harbor 1 million genetically distinct variants of the virus.