AIDS was first described in 1981 and since then 22 million people have died of the disease. The World Health Organisation estimates that in December 2000, 36 million people were infected with HIV. Of these, 1-5 million were children under the age of fifteen. It is estimated that 5-3 million people were newly infected with HIV in the year 2000 and 3 million have died in the same year. A total of nearly 22 million people have died of AIDS since the start of the epidemic. In the United Kingdom the prevalence of HIV infection is about 30 000. Over 65 000 in Europe are infected.
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the cause of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). This virus was first isolated in 1983 in Paris and a second retrovirus, HIV2, was isolated from West Africa in 1986. The virus contains an enzyme that copies viral RNA into the DNA of the host cell in which the HIV virus then persists in the host cells, particularly monocytes, macrophages, and dendritic cells.
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