What is HIV?
What is AIDS?

The goal of antiretroviral therapy (ART) is to suppress HIV and, by doing so, to make sure that people living with HIV can enjoy long and healthy lives. To understand how ART works, it is important to first understand how HIV infects the body once the virus has entered it. This is called the life cycle of HIV 1,2

1

Binding

HIV makes its way to the body’s CD4 cells – the cells that fight infection – and the virus attaches to the outer wall of the cell.
2

Fusion

The virus fuses (joins together) with the CD4 cell, enters it and releases its contents (viral material) inside the CD4 cell.
*Fusion and entry inhibitors are ARVs that block this step of the HIV lifecycle, stopping multiplication of the virus.
3

Reverse Transcription

One of the released viral materials is a protein called reverse transcriptase that allows the virus’s genetic material to change from HIV RNA to HIV DNA.
*The nucleoside/nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors and non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors are ARVs that block this step, stopping multiplication of the virus.
4

Integration

The HIV DNA travels to the nucleus of the CD4 cell where it uses another viral material, integrase, to combine the HIV DNA to the CD4 cell DNA.
5

Replication

Once HIV and CD4 cell DNA have combined, HIV uses the CD4 cell’s machinery to produce long chains of HIV proteins. The HIV proteins are the building blocks of the new virus.
6

Assembly

The proteins, including HIV RNA, travel to the surface of the CD4 cell and assemble (gather together) to form an immature new virus. Another one of the initially released viral materials, protease, cuts up these assembled long HIV protein chains to produce a mature virus.
*Proteases inhibitors are ARVs that block this step of the HIV lifecycle, stopping multiplication of the virus.
7

Budding

The new mature HIV pushes out of the CD4 cell and the CD4 cell dies. This new HIV then moves into another CD4 cell, and the process starts again.

HIV is a virus that attacks the immune cells that fight infection called CD4 cells.

HIV uses CD4 cells to multiply and spread through- out the body.

ART (antiretroviral therapy) are the medicines that are taken to keep HIV under control.

The ART are made up of ARVs (antiretrovirals) from at least two different classes which block HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) at different stages of the HIV life cycle. 1

The ARVs can be given as separate medicines or combined into one tablet or FDCs (fixed dose combinations). The goal of antiretroviral therapy (ART) is to suppress HIV and, by doing so, to make sure that people living with HIV can enjoy long and healthy lives.