Deaths related to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and the incidence of opportunistic infections have been drastically decreased in the industrialized world. These reductions are mainly due to recent advances in the management of HIV infection, including the availability of new therapies. Until November 1995, the antiretroviral drugs available and approved by the Food and Drug Administration for clinical use in the United States consisted of only four nucleoside analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitors: zidovudine, zalcitabine, didanosine, and stavudine. Since then, 2 new classes of agents and 10 new agents have been approved; thus, the number of available antiretroviral drugs has more than tripled. Additional drugs and newer classes of antiretrovirals are in various stages of development. Because of the availability of more drugs, the complexity of HIV treatment has increased. Selecting an appropriate antiretroviral therapeutic regimen involves addressing multiple interdependent issues, including patient adherence, pharmacokinetic properties of the drugs (including food effects and drug-drug interactions), drug resistance, and overlapping adverse effects.
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