Retrovirus is a type of virus that uses Ribonucleic Acid as its genetic material. Once the virus infects a cell it uses an enzyme to generate complimentary Deoxyribonucleic Acid from a Ribonucleic Acid template. This process is termed as reverse transcriptase. Once the virus infects a healthy cell the retrovirus integrates its viral deoxyribonucleic (DNA) into the DNA of the host cell, which allows the retrovirus to replicate. Any virus that belongs to the family Retroviridae and the ones that characteristically carry their genetic blueprint in the form of RNA is a retrovirus.
Retroviruses cause growth of tumor and certain types of cancer. A retrovirus known as human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) causes a form of cancer called adult T-cell leukemia (ATL) in Humans. It can also cause a neurodegenerative condition known as HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP). Besides these the Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome in human. HIV is closely related to Simian Immunodeficiency Virus or SIV which is found in Chimpanzees and Gorillas. These retroviruses get transmitted into humans through sexual contact, infected blood transfusion or infected tissue exposure or during pregnancy or during childbirth from a mother to the child. Symptoms of Acute Retroviral Syndrome are rash, fever chills, headache, fatigue, sore throat, night sweats and loss of appetite. Antiretroviral drugs are mainly used to combat the infection by retroviruses. A combination of drugs known as Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy or HAART is used to treat these infections.