The key difference between antiviral and antiretroviral is that antiviral is a drug that targets a disease-causing diverse group of viruses such as herpes, hepatitis, and influenza, while antiretroviral is a drug that targets only disease-causing retroviruses such as HIV.
Antiviral and antiretroviral are two types of drugs used against viral infections. Viral infections occur due to a harmful proliferation of viruses in the human body. Viruses cannot reproduce without the help of a host. They infect hosts by introducing their genetic material into the cells. They also hijack the internal machinery of cells. Through this, viruses make more viral particles. Later, viruses burst off the host cells to set the newly formed virus particles free. Antibiotics do not work for viruses. There are antiviral medications for viral infections.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is an Antiviral
3. What is an Antiretroviral
4. Similarities – Antiviral and Antiretroviral
5. Antiviral vs Antiretroviral in Tabular Form
6. Summary – Antiviral vs Antiretroviral
What is an Antiviral?
Antiviral is a drug that targets disease-causing diverse groups of viruses such as herpes, hepatitis, and influenza. It is a medication used to treat viral infections. Antiviral is effective against a wide range of viruses. Antiviral drugs do not destroy the target pathogen like antibiotics. Instead, they inhibit the development of viruses within the host cells. Antiviral is a class of antimicrobial that comes with antibiotics, antifungal, antiparasitic drugs, etc. Antiviral is typically harmless to the host. Therefore, it can be used to treat various viral infections without any problems.
Antiviral is different from viricides. Viricides are not medications. They are chemical or physical agents that deactivate or destroy virus particles inside or outside the body. Plants like Eucalyptus and Australian tea trees produce natural viricides. Most of the time, an antiviral drug is an inhibitor that targets different stages of the virus life cycle in the host, such as viral entry inhibitor, viral uncoating inhibitor, viral reverse transcriptase inhibitor, integrase inhibitor, etc. Some antivirals are antisense molecules (complementary DNA and RNA molecules) that block viral translation. Moreover, ribozymes that cut viral RNA into small pieces and protease inhibitors are also currently used as antiviral drugs. However, viruses like influenza show antiviral resistance to drugs such as oseltamivir and zanamivir.
What is an Antiretroviral?
Antiretroviral is a drug that targets only disease-causing retroviruses such as HIV. Currently, antiretroviral drugs are used for HIV infection. Antiretroviral drugs for HIV lower the viral load, fight the infection, and improve the quality of life. These medications also lower the chances of transmitting HIV. The goals of antiretroviral drugs for HIV include controlling the growth of the virus, improving the state of the immune system, slowing symptoms, and preventing transmission of HIV to others.
Some of the FDA approved antiretroviral drugs for HIV infection are abacavir, didanosine, lamivudine, tenofovir alafenamide and zidovudine. Most of these drugs inhibit reverse transcriptase, protease, viral entry, and integrase of HIV. In addition to HIV, antiretroviral therapy is also used for other retroviruses such as HTLV-1, which causes a form of cancer called adult T-cell leukaemia (ALT).
What are the Similarities Between Antiviral and Antiretroviral?
- Antiviral and antiretroviral are two types of drugs used against viral infections.
- Both drugs inhibit the different stages of the viral life cycle.
- They are cost-effective.
- They both target disease-causing viruses.
What is the Difference Between Antiviral and Antiretroviral?
Antiviral is a drug that targets a disease-causing diverse group of viruses such as herpes, hepatitis, and influenza, while antiretroviral is a drug that targets only the disease-causing retroviruses such as HIV. So, this is the key difference between antiviral and antiretroviral. Furthermore, antiviral is having effectiveness against a wide range of viruses, while antiretroviral is having effectiveness against a narrow range of viruses.
The below infographic presents the differences between antiviral and antiretroviral in tabular form for side by side comparison.
Summary – Antiviral vs Antiretroviral
Viral diseases are mainly due to the proliferation of viruses excessively in the human body. The treatments for viral infections include antiviral, antiretroviral and vaccines. Antiviral is a drug that targets a disease-causing diverse group of viruses such as herpes, hepatitis, and influenza, while antiretroviral is a drug that targets only the disease-causing retroviruses such as HIV. Thus, this summarizes the difference between antiviral and antiretroviral.
1. “Starting Antiretroviral Treatment for HIV.” Avert, 11 June 2020.
2. “Antivirals: Antiviral Medication, What They Treat & How They Work.” Cleveland Clinic.
1. “Acyclovir-antiviral-molecules-3d” (CC0) via Pixabay
2. “Antiretroviral Drugs to Treat HIV Infection (31793869534)” By NIAID – Antiretroviral Drugs to Treat HIV Infection (CC BY 2.0) via Commons Wikimedia