A 3-D model of HIV peeled back to show its layers. HIV's genetic material sits inside a spherical shell (gray matrix) studded with spikes (dark gray and orange). The sphere pops open when a T cell tugs on a spike. Courtesy of Ivan Konstantinov/ÃÂ© Visual Science 2011 hide caption toggle caption Courtesy of Ivan Konstantinov/ÃÂ© Visual Science 2011 Shots - Health News How HIV Hijacks The Immune System July 19, 2012 HIV is like a jack-in-the-box. When the viruses bump into particular cells in the immune system, the viruses' shells pop open and their genes enter the cells. Experimental therapies for HIV could stop the virus from getting in.