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Today, millions of people around the globe are infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This retrovirus attacks and renders ineffective the human immune system and leads to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), which leaves those with AIDS open to a variety of fatal infections. HIV knows no racial, gender, or age distinctions, and there is, as yet, no cure for HIV. However, after 25 years of research, there are three classes of medication that in various combinations may significantly slow the progress of HIV, thus improving and prolonging the life of infected individuals. Nurses in any practice arena will inevitably care for patients who are infected with HIV. With an understanding of HIV and the therapeutic benefits of antiretroviral medications, informed nurses have the opportunity and responsibility to educate infected persons in the appropriate use of antiretroviral drugs and the importance of preventing transmission of HIV to uninfected persons.