1. Binding and fusion
First, the HIV virus attaches itself to a T-helper cell and releases HIV into the cell.
Drugs that can stop this part of the process are called fusion or entry inhibitors.
2. Conversion and integration
Once inside the cell, HIV changes its genetic material so it can enter the nucleus of the cell and take control of it.
Drugs that can stop this part of the process are called NRTIs (nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors), NNRTIs (non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors) and integrase inhibitors.
The cell then produces more HIV proteins that can be used to produce more HIV.
4. Assembly, budding and maturation
New HIV particles are then released from the T-helper cell into the bloodstream. These are now ready to infect other cells and begin the process all over again.
Drugs that can stop this part of the process are called protease inhibitors.