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Immune Evasion by Viruses
Viruses have evolved numerous mechanisms for evading host immunity.
Viruses can alter their antigens and are thus no longer targets of immune responses. The antigens affected are most commonly surface glycoproteins that are recognized by antibodies, but T cell epitopes may also undergo variation. E.g HIV
The principal mechanisms of antigenic variation are point mutations and re-assortment of RNA genomes (in RNA viruses), leading to antigenic drift and antigenic shift.
These processes are of great importance in the spread of influenza virus.