Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and type 2 (HIV-2) are the causative agents of AIDS. HIV-2 is prevalent at moderate to high rates in West African countries, such as Senegal, Guinea, Gambia, and Cape Verde. Diagnosis of HIV-2 is made with a positive HIV-1/HIV-2 ELISA or simple/rapid assay, followed by one or two confirmatory tests specific for HIV-2. Following CD4+ T cell counts, HIV-2 viral burden and clinical signs and symptoms of immunodeficiency are beneficial in monitoring HIV-2 disease progression. Although non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors are ineffective in treating HIV-2, nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and protease inhibitors can be effective in dual and triple antiretroviral regimens. Their use can decrease HIV-2 viral load, increase CD4+ T cell counts and improve AIDS-related symptoms. HIV-2 resistance to various nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and protease inhibitors, including zidovudine, lamivudine, ritonavir and indinavir, has been identified in some HIV-2 infected patients on antiretroviral therapy. The knowledge of HIV-2 peculiarities, when compared to HIV-1, is crucial to helping diagnose and guide the clinician in the choice of the initial antiretroviral regimen and for monitoring therapy success.