A collection of body organs, cells and responses within them that operate together to protect the body from infections and diseases. The immune system is composed of the spleen, thymus gland, lymph nodes, lymphocytes, macrophages and protein. It has two functions:
- It recognises substances that are foreign to the body that may cause disease, and then
- It works to dispose of these foreign substances and expel them from the body.
If this system is impaired (weakened) severe infections and other conditions may develop. HIV hides within the immune system (and weakens it) impairing the second response above, so HIV cannot be expelled from the body and so persists in the body. A cure for HIV is the goal of HIV research. Meantime, HIV antiretroviral treatment slows down the HIV virus so it can’t do as much damage to the immune system, by keeping the viral load supressed to low undetectable levels.