AIDS is the final stage of infection with a virus called HIV. HIV attacks the immune system. When people have AIDS, their immune systems are damaged, and they can get many deadly diseases that healthy people can fight off. In this section, you can see a model of HIV, learn about how viruses work, explore the workings of the immune system, and find out a little about the history of the AIDS epidemic.

Exhibits & Demonstrations

Antibodies in Action
The familiar and common blood test uses antibodies to identify blood types A, B, or O. At this exhibit, you can see the action of specific antibodies in clumping blood cells. This clumping activity mimics a normal immune function.

T-4 Helper Cell Video

Watch time-lapse video footage, developed by the Exploratorium and Genelabs, of the behavior of healthy and HIV-infected T-4 cells.

Viral Attack

Computerized mazes compare and contrast behaviors of HIV and a typical rhinovirus.

Molecular Modeling

Explore an interactive computer library of three-dimensional molecular structures, including components of the immune system and HIV.

Macrophage Feeding Demonstration

Using a fluorescent microscope, watch how a key cell of the immune system works as macrophages engulf foreign bodies.

GermBusters Demonstration
Watch the destruction of germs "labeled" with antibodies through complement lysis, a key process by which the immune system attacks foreign invaders.