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Researching Retrovirals

A visit with Marc Johnson, Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology

By Tanya Sneddon
Published: - Topics: fish virus retrovirus HIV research virus

Defining “Retrovirus”

Topics: HIV disease

Although the word “virus” has become a part of the everyday vernacular–what exactly is a retrovirus? Marc Johnson says viruses can be grouped into RNA viruses and DNA viruses. RNA viruses cause short-term diseases such as the flu and the common cold, whereas DNA viruses cause more long-term illnesses like herpes or cancer. “Retroviruses are a unique blend,” he explains. “They are like a DNA virus that can replicate with RNA strategies.” HIV is a retrovirus.