21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016)


How Do We Define 'HIV Cure'?

September 16, 2016

What is a "cure," anyway? Not one presentation during this session failed to note the complicated semantic knots wrapped around the term "HIV cure" and the implications of misconceptions in securing authentic informed consent and community comprehension.

The language barrier exists not only between researchers and community members, but also across cultures. As Moodley noted during the Q&A, South Africa's 11 official national languages augment the challenge of developing universal definitions of terms. Salzwedel mentioned the importance of drawing a distinction between the scientific definition of "cure" in research and its social definitions and educating both research teams and community members on the different ways each respective group employs the term.

Power pointed out that researchers themselves have little control over how the term is used, citing the media's dismaying tendency to herald "cures" of all kinds. The language of HIV cure must be used carefully, and Dubé and Evans both relayed some ethicists' concerns with using the term "cure" or even "remission" at all during recruitment. Still, evoking survey participants' more altruistic motivations, Power stated: "If there are people out there saying 'I want to help with this. I want to participate in a trial. I want to be involved in cure' ... I don't necessarily think that's the same as misunderstanding the science."

The term itself, she notes, with all its myriad associations, is here to stay. One task moving forward is to create accessible, clear education for each local context around what "cure" means in the HIV community.

With HIV cure research on the horizon, explore some of the other top ethical questions being asked in advance here.

Olivia G. Ford is a contributing editor for and

Copyright © 2016 Remedy Health Media, LLC. All rights reserved.

This article was provided by TheBodyPRO. It is a part of the publication The 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016).

No comments have been made.

Add Your Comment:
(Please note: Your name and comment will be public, and may even show up in
Internet search results. Be careful when providing personal information! Before
adding your comment, please read's Comment Policy.)

Your Name:

Your Location:

(ex: San Francisco, CA)

Your Comment:

Characters remaining:

Please note: Knowledge about HIV changes rapidly. Note the date of this summary's publication, and before treating patients or employing any therapies described in these materials, verify all information independently. If you are a patient, please consult a doctor or other medical professional before acting on any of the information presented in this summary. For a complete listing of our most recent conference coverage, click here.


The content on this page is free of advertiser influence and was produced by our editorial team. See our content and advertising policies.