Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a lentivirus (a member of the retrovirus family) that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive. Infection with HIV occurs by the transfer of blood, semen, vaginal fluid, pre-ejaculate, or breast milk. Within these bodily fluids, HIV is present as both free virus particles and virus within infected immune cells. The four major routes of transmission are unsafe sex, contaminated needles, breast milk, and transmission from an infected mother to her baby at birth (perinatal transmission). Screening of blood products for HIV has largely eliminated transmission through blood transfusions or infected blood products in the developed world. HIV-1 reverse transcriptase from human immunodeficiency virus type 1 has two subunits, which have respective molecular weights of 66 and 51 kDa.
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