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For HIV infection to take hold, a virus particle must first attach to a cell to gain entry. Shown above are HIV-1 particles assembling at the surface of an infected cell.
© L. Gross, Public Library of Science. CC-BY-SA.

In a set of five activities and readings, students investigate and learn about the structure, function and replication cycle of the HIV virus, and how it spreads, and they act as epidemiologists, using real data to track the spread of HIV/AIDS nationally and globally.

  • Modeling an HIV Particle

    Modeling an HIV ParticleLesson

    Students read an essay about the emergence of HIV/AIDS, and learn about the basic structure of the virus by making three-dimensional paper models of an HIV particle.

  • Making Copies of an HIV Particle

    Making Copies of an HIV ParticleLesson

    Students read an essay about HIV viral replication, learn the parts of a single HIV particle, and investigate the HIV replication cycle in a host cell.

  • Calculating Exponential Growth

    Calculating Exponential GrowthLesson

    Students read an essay about the rapid spread of HIV particles in the body, and learn how to calculate exponential growth using pennies to model HIV particles.

  • Mapping the Spread of HIV/AIDS

    Mapping the Spread of HIV/AIDSLesson

    Students read an essay about how scientists first tracked HIV/AIDS, then play the role of epidemiologist as they use actual data to map the spread of the disease worldwide.

  • HIV/AIDS in the United States

    HIV/AIDS in the United StatesLesson

    Students read an essay about misperceptions related to HIV/AIDS and use statistical data to create presentations on the impacts of HIV/AIDS in the United States.

Related Content

  • X-Times: Microbes

    X-Times: Microbes Reading

    Student magazine: articles focusing on microbes, both helpful and harmful. Includes a special report, "HIV/AIDS: The Virus and the Epidemic."