Leading US scientist Anthony Fauci reminded researchers hunting for a cure for HIV to make sure they were open about the risks patients faced in investigating novel therapies.
"The one thing we really need to remember is we want to make sure that what we are doing for a cure is better for the patient than what they are already receiving. It has to be safe, less toxic than what the person is on, and scaleable," Fauci, who is director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the US National Institutes of Health is quoted in Business Day as saying.
The report says the prospect of a possible cure or long-term remission from HIV is expected to be one of the hot topics at the week-long 21st International AIDS Conference. It was also the focus of a two-day symposium ahead of the conference, which is expected to attract 18,000 delegates from around the globe.
Fauci acknowledged the challenges of HIV cure research but said recent advances in the field and the growing number of scientists working in the arena gave him optimism.
While funding for HIV cure research pales in comparison to that available for prevention and treatment, it has more than doubled in the past four years, according to analysis by the International AIDS Society’s HIV cure resource tracking group and the advocacy group AVAC.
The report says a total of $201.8m was invested in HIV cure research in 2015, a 25% increase on the previous year. The majority of the investments ($187.7m) came from the public sector, predominantly from the US. Another $14.73m was invested by philanthropies such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust.
"We speak of a cure, but it is an aspirational goal. We know this is going to be really really difficult. Our focus in the meantime is remission," said Sharon Lewin director of the University of Melbourne’s Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and co-author of a recently released HIV cure research strategy.
Antiretroviral therapy is not curative. Given the challenges in providing lifelong therapy to a global population of more than 35 million people living with HIV, there is intense interest in developing a cure for HIV infection. The International AIDS Society convened a group of international experts to develop a scientific strategy for research towards an HIV cure. This Perspective summarizes the group's strategy.
Steven G Deeks, Sharon R Lewin, Anna Laura Ross, Jintanat Ananworanich, Monsef Benkirane, Paula Cannon, Nicolas Chomont, Daniel Douek, Jeffrey D Lifson, Ying-Ru Lo, Daniel Kuritzkes, David Margolis, John Mellors, Deborah Persaud, Joseph D Tucker, Françoise Barre-Sinoussi, International AIDS Society Towards a Cure Working Group, Galit Alter, Judith Auerbach, Brigitte Autran, Dan H Barouch, Georg Behrens, Marina Cavazzana, Zhiwei Chen, Éric A Cohen, Giulio Maria Corbelli, Serge Eholié, Nir Eyal, Sarah Fidler, Laurindo Garcia, Cynthia Grossman, Gail Henderson, Timothy J Henrich, Richard Jefferys, Hans-Peter Kiem, Joseph McCune, Keymanthri Moodley, Peter A Newman, Monique Nijhuis, Moses Supercharger Nsubuga, Melanie Ott, Sarah Palmer, Douglas Richman, Asier Saez-Cirion, Matthew Sharp, Janet Siliciano, Guido Silvestri, Jerome Singh, Bruno Spire, Jeffrey Taylor, Martin Tolstrup, Susana Valente, Jan van Lunzen, Rochelle Walensky, Ira Wilson, Jerome Zack