Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection occurs throughout the body and can have dramatic physical effects, such as neurocognitive impairment in the central nervous system (CNS). Furthermore, examining the virus that resides in the CNS is challenging due to its location and can only be done using samples collected either at autopsy, indirectly form the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF), or through the use of animal models. The unique milieu of the CNS fosters viral compartmentalization as well as evolution of viral sequences, allowing for new cell types, such as macrophages and microglia, to be infected. Treatment must also cross the blood-brain barrier adding additional obstacles in eliminating viral populations in the CNS. These long-lived infected cell types and treatment barriers may affect functional cure strategies in people on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).