On the outside of the HIV and lip envelopes, embed in which are peg-like attachment proteins. Inside the envelope the protein layer called the capsid that contains 2 single strands of RNA as well as some enzymes.

One of these enzymes is Reverse transcriptase, this catalyses the production of DNA and the RNA. Transcriptase does the opposite effect of this. The presence of these enzymes results in the ability to produce DNA from RNA.

HIV, as the name suggest, is a virus. As a result, it cannot replicate itself, instead it uses genetic material to instruct the host’s cells biochemical mechanisms to produce the relevant components to produce a new HIV.


  • Upon infection, the HIV enters the bloodstream thus gaining access to circulate around the entire body.
  • A protein found on the HIV readily binds to cells around the body, though frequently to the T-cells.
  • The protein capsid fuses itself with the cell-surface membrane of the cell it has attached to.
  • The enzymes of the HIV enter into the cell/helper T cell.
  • HIV reverse transcriptase converts the virus’s RNA into DNA.
  • The new DNA molecule is then transferred into the cells/T cells nucleus where it is inserted into its own DNA
  • The HIV’s DNA in the nucleus creates mRNA using the cell’s enzymes. This mRNA contains instructions for making new viral proteins and the RNA to go into the new HIV particles
  • The HIV particles break off the T-helper cells with a piece of its cell surface membrane surrounding them which forms their lipid envelope.

Once infected with HIV a person is said to be HIV positive, however the replication of HIV often goes dormant, sometimes becoming reactivated and leading to AIDS many years later.