ART in pictures: HIV treatment explained

ART in pictures June 2017 cover

This resource explains some of the ideas and science behind HIV and treatment. 

  • It is easy to read. 
  • Each section includes a picture and summary notes. 
  • Additional text in each section tells a more detailed story.

It was developed as an advocacy course for people living with HIV.


The immune system in overdrive

The HIV lifecycle

The HIV lifecycle in detail

The natural history of HIV without ART 

The natural history in detail

HIV after starting ART 

HIV after starting ART in detail

Drug levels and adherence 

Drug adherence in detail

The viral reservoir 

The HIV cure puzzle 

Understanding test results 

References and further information 



PDFs and downloads


Written and edited by Simon Collins for HIV i-Base. ISBN: 978-0-9553619-1-3.

Thanks to the advisory group of HIV positive people and healthcare professionals for comments including advocates at i-Base, Positively UK and Project 100. Proofreading by Roy Trevelion and layout by Jane Shepherd.

Additional graphics from three artworks by John Walter (, photographed by Jonathan Bassett. 1. John Walter, HIV Capsid, laser cut card and glue, 2015. 2. John Walter, Popcorn Fannypack is Confused at How Green Trimminz can Wear His Blinkers without Fear of Transmission as he Treads the Astroturf Labyrinth, (detail), Ink and watercolour on paper, 2015. 3. John Walter, Wayne Gibbous Stands Guard Against the Virus in the Intestine Corridor, (detail), Ink and watercolour, 2015.

Thanks to Monument Trust and MAC AIDS Fund for supporting i-Base publications.

About our guides

Information about how we produced this guide and the importance of using language that is direct and easy to understand. This includes information on how to write non technical medical information that may be useful as a resource for other organisations.

Last updated: 1 April 2022.