Like Cancer, the battle against HIV/AIDS is fought on several fronts. For decades already, the HIV virus has proven to be a formidable opponent, capable of rapidly developing resistance against all the retroviral drugs that have been thrown against it. The problem of resistance development has been largely circumvented by the latest generations of Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapies (HAART) which basically consist of the combined application of different classes of antiretroviral drugs with the aim of confusing the resistance development mechanisms of the virus.
The introduction of HAART combination drugs has greatly enhanced the life expectancy of HIV/AIDS patients, but thus far has not resulted in a definitive cure. The reason for this is not directly related to resistance development but rather to the annoying capacity of the virus to protect itself by remaining in a semi dormant stage in certain cells related to our own immune system where it is impossible to be detected and destroyed by the same immune system. This very clever survival mechanism of the HIV virus can not be resolved by more of the same antiretroviral drugs. It is a completely different battle and needs to be fought with different weapons.
Whilst antiretroviral drugs have proven to be active against the HIV virus, they all target some of HIV’s own viral proteins needed for its reproduction cycle. Some of these proteins are needed for the viral entrance into our cells while others are needed during the reproduction stage.