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Dictionary of Cancer Terms

View in Spanish: Retrovirus

Retrovirus (REH-troh-VY-rus)
A type of virus that has RNA instead of DNA as its genetic material. It uses an enzyme called reverse transcriptase to become part of the host cells’ DNA. This allows many copies of the virus to be made in the host cells. The virus that causes AIDS, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), is a type of retrovirus.



 
 
Source: National Cancer Institute Dictionary of Cancer Terms, available at www.cancer.gov/dictionary.