Antivirals are a class of medications used for the treatment of viral infections. In immunocompetent individuals most viral infections cure spontaneously. Antiviral therapy aims at minimizing symptoms and infectivity, as well as shortening the duration of the disease. Those drugs act by arresting the cycle of viral replication at different stages. Antiviral treatment is generally effective for only a small range of infections. Much of the commercially developed antiviral medicines are used to manage HIV-caused diseases, herpes viruses, hepatitis B and C viruses and influenza A and B viruses. Since viruses are compulsory intracellular parasites. Drug targets that interfere with viral replication without harming the host cells, are difficult to find. Antiviral drugs, unlike other antimicrobials, do not deactivate or destroy the microbe (in this case, the virus) but act by inhibiting replication. In this way, they prevent the viral load from growing to a point where it could cause pathogenesis, allowing the body to neutralize the virus with its innate immune mechanism. This learning card outlines the most commonly used antiviral agents. See HIV therapy for more information on antiretroviral agents used in the HIV treatment, which is known as highly active antiretroviral therapy ( HAART)

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