How is HIV detected through the use of a microscope?

HIV, which stands for human immunodeficiency virus, is a virus that attacks and damages the immune system by causing the destruction of T cells, also called CD4 cells, needed for the body to fight infections. This virus consists of three phases of progression, the third being the final phase of HIV infection, which is known as AIDS, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

Electron microscopy and fluorescence microscopy are fundamental for the identification of bacteria and viruses such as HIV, since, with the use of the electron microscope, it is possible to obtain much better and more powerful enlargements than with the conventional one, and with the fluorescence microscope it is allowed the visualization of very small fluorescent molecules, by the light that emits.

Fluorescence microscope for diagnosis of HIV

The fluorescence microscope is a variant of the conventional microscope, with the difference that to this one is added an illumination accessory, the fluorescence. The use of this accessory in the microscope, makes it a valuable tool for scientific research, because it helps to obtain high levels of microscopic resolution and sensitivity, facilitating in a different way the appreciation of samples that go unnoticed.

The basic function of this type of microscope is to label the sample in question with fluorophore, a fluorescent substance, and then apply, through the lens, a high-energy light. The light will be absorbed by this substance and will cause the emission of light with low energy and a long wavelength, in this way we will obtain the illuminated image and provide the user with the visualization of the fluorescent. Fluorescence is known as a physical phenomenon widely used in analytical and biological microscopy due to its high specificity and sensitivity, which is why, fluorescence microscopy is a useful tool for scientific research, within its application, to help the identification of compounds and structures in living or fixed biological samples.

The fluorescence microscope helps identify viruses such as HIV. Tests of saliva or blood may be done to diagnose HIV infection. There is one technique used for the diagnosis of autoimmune diseases, the IFI test, which means indirect immunofluorescence, by which HIV is diagnosed. Using this test is necessary the application of fluorescent substances that help the detection of antibodies in cells or tissues, this is where the fluorescence microscope comes into action.

Electron microscope for studying the structure of HIV

The electron microscope is an apparatus that uses electrons with high energy, rather than visible light, as with the conventional microscope, to create an augmented image. Unlike other types of microscopes, the electronic microscope is able to show the smallest and smallest details of what you want to observe.

Since the creation of the electron microscope, virology has made great advances in research studies, which, without this instrument, would not have been possible. Electron microscopy establishes the main foundations for the study and diagnosis of viruses, such as HIV. The HIV virus is small in size so without an electron microscope it would be extremely difficult to study its structure and function.

HIV possesses essential features of the retrovirus family. It has a spherical shape and its diameter is between 90 nm and 120 nm. The outer shell is a lipid bilayer that grasps the host cell, and the outer shell of the host cell is a bilayer where spicules consisting of viral glycoproteins, gp 120 and gp 41, associated non-covalently on the surface of the virion, are inserted.

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