How Do Antiretroviral Drugs Work?

Overview of Activity

The purpose of this activity is engage students in studying the HIV viral infection pathway in a human cell. Students will study the life cycle using scientific thought processes in small groups to determine different points where the pathway could be inhibited to prevent the spread of the infection.

Grade Level: 9 to 12

Difficulty: Intermediate to advanced

Activity Type: In Class Investigation and Analysis
URLs: How Do ART Drugs Work (Teacher Pages)
How Do ART Drugs Work(Student Pages)
How Do ART Drugs Work(Answer Key)
NIH HIV Life Cycle

Amount of Time Required for Activity: One and a half forty minute class periods (60 min)
Recommended Uses: N.B. This activity can be utilized aside from a field trip in a classroom to engage students in thinking about how antiretroviral drugs interrupt the HIV life cycle.
Prior to attending the exhibit, it may be used as an engaging activity to encourage students to think about how the lifecycle of HIV relates to available treatments. This is the most effective way to use this activity.
After visiting the exhibit, it may be used as an opportunity to build on student understanding of how antiretroviral drugs interrupt the HIV lifecycle. The activity will not be inquiry-based if students have already viewed the KSM video.

Students will be introduced to HIV and the concept of immunity by viewing a PBS video clip highlighting individuals who are naturally immune to HIV. Following the video clip, they will read a related article that discusses the relationship between therapeutic drugs as inhibitors of the spread of disease in the human body.

After completing the initial exercises designed to spur student thinking about how therapeutic drugs are effective methods of controlling the symptoms of diseases, students will engage in an inquiry-based activity. They will take on the role of scientists researching the HIV lifecycle to discover how to prevent further spread of the virus in an infected individual’s body. They will then present their findings to the class and compare their results to drugs that currently exist. The activity culminates in a class discussion about therapeutic drugs, vaccines, and human immunity.

This activity is designed by the Koshland Science Museum to accompany the HIV videos.

Relation to the Science Standards
High School
Content Standard A - All students should develop abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
Content Standard C - All students should develop an understanding of the cell, molecular basis of heredity, interdependence of living organisms, biological evolution and behavior of organisms
Content Standard E - All students should develop understandings about science and technology
Content Standard F - All students should develop understanding of personal and community health, science and technology in local, national, and global challenges, and natural and human-induced hazards
Content Standard G - All students should develop understanding of nature of scientific knowledge, historical perspectives, and science as a human endeavor

Related Part of the Exhibit
Antiretrovirals and the HIV Pandemic
Vaccines and Human Immunity

Additional Related Links
In Rwanda, U.S.-backed program Improves Access to AIDS Drugs - NewsHour, November 14, 2007
AIDS in Africa - In Depth Report - NewsHour