Anti-viral drugs are classified as medications used to treat specific viruses, much like anti-biotics are used to treat certain bacterial infections. There are a number of different anti-viral drugs on the market which are used for a variety of viruses. The chief difference between anti-viral drugs and anti-biotics is that anti-virals are not effective in killing pathogens; instead what they do is inhibit their growth.
Anti-virals are just one class of a group of antimicrobials which also includes anti-fungals, anti-parasitic drugs, as well as anti-biotics. There are specific anti-virals to treat very specific viruses such as the HIV virus, influenza virus, herpes virus, as well as hepatitis B and C viruses. Researchers are working diligently to develop anti-virals which will be used to treat other types of pathogens.
Because viruses replicate in their hosts cells it has been a constant battle for scientists to develop anti-virals which are safe as well as effective. This is mainly because finding a proper target without compromising or interfering with the host’s organism cells is difficult. This is one of the main reasons modern medicine has not been able to develop a cure for viruses, to date.