What are Non-Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NNRTIs)?
When HIV infects a CD4 cell in a person's body, it copies its own genetic code into the cell's DNA. In this way, the cell is then "programmed" to create new copies of HIV. HIV's genetic material is in the form of RNA. In order for it to infect CD4 cells, it must first convert its RNA into DNA. HIV's reverse transcriptase enzyme is needed to perform this process.
NNRTIs, also known as "non-nucleosides" or "non-nukes" for short, attach themselves to reverse transcriptase and prevent the enzyme from converting RNA to DNA. In turn, HIV's genetic material cannot be incorporated into the healthy genetic material of the cell, and prevents the cell from producing new virus.
To learn more on how HIV infects a CD4 cell and begins to create more viruses, and where each class of HIV drugs blocks this process, click on the following lesson link:
The HIV Life Cycle (and the targets of each class of anti-HIV drugs)