There are currently 24 drugs approved for treating HIV infection. Of these, 23 are small molecule orally available drugs, or drug combinations, targeting the virus' reverse transcriptase and protease enzymes, targets that have been known for two decades. In reality, only a relatively small number of currently approved drugs are regularly used in clinical practice, as earlier compounds are superseded by drugs with improved dosing regimens, potency and tolerability.
Since the identification of HIV in 1983 and licensing of AZT in 1986 we now have more than 20 agents available for HIV treatment from five drug classes. This article will review recent advances in HIV treatment and discuss future challenges that the research community, pharmaceutical industry, healthcare providers and HIV infected patients will need to address as time goes on.