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During primary infection, the level of HIV may reach several million virus particles per milliliter of blood. This weakens the immune system and allows opportunistic infections.T cells are essential to the immune response and without them, the body cannot fight infections or kill cancerous cells.
During the chronic phase, the consequences of generalized immune activation coupled with the gradual loss of the ability of the immune system to generate new T cells appear to account for the slow decline in CD4 Immune activation, which is reflected by the increased activation state of immune cells and release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, results from the activity of several HIV gene products and the immune response to ongoing HIV replication.
Upon entry into the target cell, the viral RNA genome is converted (reverse transcribed) into double-stranded DNA by a virally encoded reverse transcriptase that is transported along with the viral genome in the virus particle.