Note: this site last updated in 2006
An article from "The Molecules of HIV" (c) Dan Stowell
The chemical 3'-azido,3'-deoxythymidine, also known as zidovudine, also known as AZT, is the first HIV antiretroviral to have been licensed for clinical use. It works by inhibiting the action of HIV reverse%20transcriptase">reverse transcriptase.
Unfortunately, zidovudine has some toxic effects, which might explain why it isn't the "magic bullet" we'd like. Also, as soon as you treat a patient with an antiretroviral, resistant strains of HIV emerge (partly because of HIV's high mutation rate). (Using a selection of antiretrovirals at once reduces the chance of resistant strains evolving. This is the idea behind HAART.)