Making Sense of Recent Cure Headlines—People Living with HIV and Advocates Speak Out

October 5, 2016

Recent headlines touting that “a cure for HIV is near” have popped up on media platforms across the globe this week. These came after a trial in the UK reported treatment of the study’s first patient with a new therapy. Like many headlines, they’re not the truth—not even close. The trial won’t have final results until 2018. It’s only then that researchers will know whether the intervention had an effect. But this didn’t stop the mainstream media from trumpeting an early victory against the virus.

Coverage originated in the UK, but the hyped media coverage continues to ripple through mainstream and social media. In response to this flurry of hype, long-time activist and editor JD Davids’ penned an excellent opinion piece, ‘Infuriating’: People With HIV, Doctors, Advocates Speak Out on Bad ‘HIV Cure’ Reporting.

In the piece, JD points out that, “these stories aren’t just inaccurate. They’re harmful. People feel hopeful, then their hope is dashed. They learn to ignore HIV research news, including that which is responsible and accurate. Providers and advocates have to spend time sensitively debunking the misinformation and supporting those who are disappointed. All this takes time and spirit and energy that then can’t go toward proactive efforts to, well, cure HIV for real, while doing the hard work to honor and improve and save our own and other people’s lives in the here and now.” Read the whole piece here.

For those in search of accurate information, TheBody has an explainer piece on the study making headlines. Check out the AVAC cure page for basic materials and resources. And our CUREiculum is a suite of tools that provide simple, accessible information on HIV cure research in a module-based format. Each module was developed by a community-scientific partnership to help ensure that materials covering quite complex basic science are both accurate and accessible. The CUREiculum grew out of a recognition for the need among members of the community to increase literacy around the growing HIV cure research field—a need for which was reiterated this week.