These yellow speckles are human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infecting an immune cell – the first step in a process that ultimately leads to AIDS. Thanks to the wide availability of anti-viral drugs, people now live with HIV for many years. But there’s still a lot we don’t know about the progress of the infection, or why some people have much higher levels of HIV in their body than others. Is this due to the genetic makeup of the virus, the genes of the infected individual, or a combination of both? To find out, researchers have studied more than 500 people with HIV and discovered that around a third of the difference in the amount of virus in each patient’s body is due to a combination of viral and human genes working together. What’s more, a patient’s genes influence how HIV evolves within the body, revealing the genetic battle as infection progresses.
Written by Kat Arney
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (the new name for the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre) the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.