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The viral envelope contains proteins from the host cell and relatively few copies of the HIV Envelope protein, The Envelope protein, encoded by the HIV env gene, allows the virus to attach to target cells and fuse the viral envelope with the target cell's membrane releasing the viral contents into the cell and initiating the infectious cycle.

Over half of the mass of the trimeric envelope spike is N-linked glycans.

The six remaining genes, tat, rev, nef, vif, vpr, and vpu (or vpx in the case of HIV-2), are regulatory genes for proteins that control the ability of HIV to infect cells, produce new copies of virus (replicate), or cause disease.

The two Tat proteins (p16 and p14) are transcriptional transactivators for the LTR promoter acting by binding the TAR RNA element.

A matrix composed of the viral protein p17 surrounds the capsid ensuring the integrity of the virion particle.

This is, in turn, surrounded by the viral envelope, that is composed of the lipid bilayer taken from the membrane of a human host cell when the newly formed virus particle buds from the cell.

HIV-1 is more virulent and more infective than HIV-2, and is the cause of the majority of HIV infections globally.

The resulting viral DNA is then imported into the cell nucleus and integrated into the cellular DNA by a virally encoded enzyme, integrase, and host co-factors.

In most cases, HIV is a sexually transmitted infection and occurs by contact with or transfer of blood, pre-ejaculate, semen, and vaginal fluids.

Non-sexual transmission can occur from an infected mother to her infant through breast milk.

The density is high as the glycans shield the underlying viral protein from neutralisation by antibodies.

This is one of the most densely glycosylated molecules known and the density is sufficiently high to prevent the normal maturation process of glycans during biogenesis in the endoplasmic and Golgi apparatus.

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