Prospects for an HIV/AIDS Cure: Opinions of People with HIV and Their Healthcare Providers
By Jeffrey Laurence, M.D., and Rowena Johnston, Ph.D.
When people living with HIV (PWH) join clinical trials for cure research, they are often referred by their healthcare providers. It is therefore important to learn how each group views such research, including the need to interrupt antiretroviral therapy (ART) under closely monitored conditions in a process known as analytical treatment interruption (ATI).
Two online surveys conducted by the Australian HIV Cure Community Partnership questioned 442 PWH and 144 HIV healthcare providers from North America, Western Europe, and Australasia. Interest in, knowledge of, and experience with cure research differed between the two groups. While 37% of PWH had participated in any kind of HIV clinical trial, only 5% had participated in a cure-focused study. Slightly fewer than half were aware of ATI in cure research, and a quarter had ever interrupted their ART, but mostly outside the cure research context.
Of note, 90% of PWH said they would be willing to stop ART for a study. By contrast, although knowledge of ATI was higher among healthcare providers, only 31% were confident they would allow their patients to enroll in such a study, and only a quarter would promote such studies to their patients. These differences tracked with optimism surrounding the development of a cure—more than half of PWH thought a cure could be achieved in the next 10 years, compared to only 19% of healthcare providers.
The authors concluded that educational strategies tailored specifically to each group are required to increase understanding of HIV cure research and the role of ATI.
amfAR was a funder of this research.
Dr. Laurence is amfAR’s senior scientific consultant and Dr. Johnston is vice president and director of research.