What keeps HIV researchers on the path to a cure? What drives advocates to keep pushing for a cure? amfAR asked five researchers—all amfAR grantees—and five advocates for their perspectives on why a cure for HIV is needed beyond the most urgent reason—to save lives. Here’s what they shared.

Dr. Jonah Sacha

Oregon Health & Science University

“HIV has caused untold human suffering for over four decades, yet we now know we can beat it. In September 2023, for the first time ever, three individuals cured of HIV stood together in the same room. Seeing them united shoulder-to-shoulder and hearing their stories of achieving cure was inspiring. As an HIV researcher, this demonstrated the ‘why’ in answer to the question of ‘why do we need an HIV cure?’ We need a cure because the impact on someone who had previously lived with HIV, yet is now HIV-free, is simply life-altering. We can achieve this for everyone living with HIV. The time to cure HIV is now.”

Dr. Nicolas Chomont

Université de Montréal, Centre de Recherche du CHUM

“We need a cure to end the criminalization and stigmatization of people living with HIV. We need a cure so that the lives of people living with HIV do not depend on a pill that they will have to take for the rest of their lives, with no guarantee of access. We need a cure so that the 40 years of struggle against this virus by hospital workers, scientists, and activists produce the results hoped for since its discovery.”

Dr. Leila Giron

The Wistar Institute

“There are still 39 million people living with HIV worldwide. Despite the remarkable achievements of antiretroviral therapy (ART), only 76% of people living with HIV were accessing treatment in 2022.

In the post-ART era, the issues are no longer life expectancy and disease progression but the viral reservoir, immune activation/ inflammation, and HIV comorbidities related or not to drug toxicity. A cure would not only save lives and reduce health complications but also help eliminate the stigma surrounding HIV.”

Dr. Brad Jones

Weill Cornell Medicine

“The importance of a cure for HIV, I think, is threefold. We need a cure to fully restore quality of life to people who are living with HIV. The community of people living with HIV tell us that we also need a cure as a tool to help end the HIV epidemic. I think the other reason why a cure for HIV would be important is that it would be important is that it would be really a remarkable triumph of science.”

Dr. Pamela Skinner

University of Minnesota

“While ART is effective and has indeed saved the lives of millions of people living with HIV, it is not a cure. Stopping ART leads to virus rebounding and disease progression. ART fails to eradicate HIV reservoirs where HIV ‘hides.’ Ongoing viral replication leads to disease progression, and can lead to the emergence of HIV variants that are resistant to ART and variants that can evade the adaptive immune responses. Given this, there is a need to develop improved treatments for people living with HIV.”