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The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), types I and II, are the only members of the lentiretroviridae group to cause human disease. A closely related virus, simian immunodeficiency virus, is thought to be the progenitor of HIV.
HIV specifically infects cells displaying the CD4 antigen, including T-helper cells and antigen presenting cells. There is no latent stage in the HIV life-cycle and chronic high-level replication results in steady destruction of the immune system.
It is estimated that about 30 million people are HIV+ve world wide and more than 3 million have AIDS
By the end of 2008 there were an estimated 83,000 HIV patients in the UK (equal to 1.3 people per 1,000 population in the UK) with quarter (27%) of patients unaware of their infection (1)
Over the past decade, deaths among HIV infected individuals have been stable with a decline in the number of AIDS diagnoses - in 2008, 525 deaths occurred (387 men and 138 women) (1).