A Survey of Plants with Anti-HIV Active Compounds and their Modes of Action

  • KC Chinsembu
  • M Hedimbi


Background: Several limitations of current antiretroviral therapy (ART) programmes will continue to push patients towards the use of plants to manage HIV/AIDS. However, evidence about the use of anti-HIV plants is anecdotal.
Objectives: Search the literature for research articles that document plants with anti-HIV properties; and document the taxonomic families and species of plants with anti-HIV properties, their active ingredients, and modes of action against HIV.
Methodology: Literature search for the key words “plants with anti-HIV activity” in PubMed Central.
Results: The literature survey documented about 36 plant families containing 46 plant species with known anti-HIV active compounds and known modes of action. Anti-HIV active compounds such as terpenoids, coumarins, polyphenols, tannins, proteins, alkaloids, and biflavonoids inhibit various steps of the HIV life cycle.
Discussion: Most studies that revealed anti-HIV active compounds and their modes of action were conducted outside Africa. A new initiative under NEPAD will help validate African medicinal plants used to manage HIV/AIDS.
Conclusions: The review presents evidence that several plant families and species contain anti-HIV active compounds that could be developed into newer drugs to manage HIV/AIDS. This evidence should persuade further research and public interest into the isolation of anti-HIV active compounds from plants.
Recommendation: There is an urgent need to fasttrack HIV/AIDS clinical trials of candidate drugs developed from novel compounds isolated from plants.

Keywords: Plants, anti-HIV active compounds, modes of action


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0047-651X
print ISSN: 0047-651X