Ethnopharmacology of human immunodeficiency virus in South Africa–a minireview
Infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the etiologic agent of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), continues to pose an unprecedented public health problem of enormous proportions worldwide. Current treatment options for HIV/AIDS have not been satisfactory and the quest for effective curative or preventive therapies goes on. Plants are increasingly seen as an alternative source for the discovery of novel anti-HIV molecules. Africa, particularly southern Africa, endowed with a rich diversity of medicinal plants, represents the region of the world worse hit by HIV. Anecdotal evidence of the therapeutic benefits to AIDS patients of some plant-derived preparations abound. This mini-review takes a look at the evaluations of South African medicinal plants to determine their effects on HIV/AIDS, and the initial attempts at the isolation and characterization of putative anti-HIV molecules.