Resistance is Futile - Or Is It?
The Immunity System and HIV Infection
Continuing Studies and Executive Education
While the majority of people are prone to HIV infection, some individuals remain uninfected despite repeated exposure. This case study is based on the landmark paper by Paxton et al. (1996) that uncovered some of the mechanisms of protection against HIV infection. Using a progressive disclosure format, students are guided to suggest hypotheses, predict the outcomes of experiments, and compare their predictions with the paper’s results. Developed for a first-year non-majors biology course, the case is appropriate for introducing students to the immune system and the human immunodeficiency virus.
- Formulate testable hypotheses given preliminary data.
- Suggest tests to evaluate hypotheses.
- Predict results of experiments that would confirm each hypothesis.
- Interpret data and compare to predicted outcomes.
- Describe cellular and humoral immunity.
- Draw the HIV virus structure and describe the function of each component.
- Describe the interaction of the HIV virus with the immune system.
- Differentiate between resistance and immunity as mechanisms of protection against a foreign particle.
- Debate the pros and cons of personal knowledge of HIV resistance and immunity.
KeywordsHIV; human immunodeficiency virus; retrovirus; reverse transcriptase; T cell; immune system; immunity; AIDS; acquired immunodeficiency syndrome; infectious disease; experimental design; data interpretation
Topical AreasScientific method, Social issues
Educational LevelUndergraduate lower division
Type / MethodsInterrupted, Journal Article
Subject HeadingsBiology (General) | Medicine (General) | Public Health | Cell Biology | Molecular Biology | Physiology | Microbiology |
The supplemental material below may be used with this case study:Click and Learn: Cells of the Immune System
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The following video(s) are recommended for use in association with this case study.
- HIV Life Cycle
A short video clip explaining how HIV infects a cell and replicates itself using reverse transcriptase and the host's cellular machinery. Running time: 4:52 min. Produced by HHMI BioInteractive.