HIV-1 protease is the aspartyl protease that mediates proteolytic cleavages of Gag and Gag-Pol polyproteins during or shortly after the release of the virion from the plasma membrane. Cleavages take place as an ordered step-wise cascade to yield mature proteins. This process is called maturation. Displays maximal activity during the budding process just prior to particle release from the cell. Also cleaves Nef and Vif probably concomitantly with viral structural proteins on maturation of virus particles. Hydrolyzes host EIF4GI and PABP1 in order to shut off the capped cellular mRNA translation. The resulting inhibition of cellular protein synthesis serves to ensure maximal viral gene expression and to evade host immune response.