AHEAD of the International AIDS Conference starting tomorrow in Washington D.C, United States, scientists yesterday announced the launch of inaugural global scientific strategy towards HIV cure.
The launch is coming amid new reports by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) and Kaiser Family Foundation that funding for immunodeficiency virus infection/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) has been the same since 2008 when the global recession hit the world.
The new HIV cure strategy identified seven important priority areas for basic, translational and clinical research as well as maps out a path for future research collaboration and funding opportunities.
Co-discoverer of HIV and Director of the Regulation of Retroviral Infections Unit at the Institut Pasteur, Prof. Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, said that the strategy would go a long way in finding a cure to the virus that has plagued mankind for decades.
“The strategy is the result of a collaborative effort which has produced a roadmap that will constructively move HIV cure research forward,” Barré-Sinoussi said.
Barré-Sinoussi, who is also the International AIDS Society (IAS) President-Elect, with Prof Steven Deeks of the University of California, is co-chair of the group of 34 leading HIV scientists and clinicians who have developed the Global Scientific Strategy.
“The science has been telling us for some time now that achieving a cure for HIV infection could be a realistic possibility. The time is right to take the opportunity to try and develop an HIV cure – we might regret never having tried,” concluded Barré-Sinoussi.
The IAS strategy for an HIV cure has a very clear vision: A safe, affordable and scalable cure will improve the health and quality of life for those with established infection; reduce the risk of transmission of virus to those not infected, and ultimately allow resources to be shifted to other needs.
Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé said finding cure to HIV would help to end the cycle of stigma and discrimination that has become problem part of HIV treatment.
His words: “Finding a cure for AIDS is a critical innovation gap. A cure will bring new hope to people living with HIV and their loved ones and could end the cycle of stigma and discrimination.”
Deeks, who expressed optimism on HIV cure, said the strategy might end decades of hopeless search for HIV cure. “Our basic understanding of the mechanisms of HIV persistence in latent reservoirs is far superior than it was a decade ago. We are entering a stage in the epidemic in which we can seriously begin testing drugs that either prevent latency or which force the virus out of its hiding place, make it susceptible to our current drugs, ” Deeks said.
But UNAIDS’ report revealed that international investments sill account for more than half of funding for HIV in Africa. “International investments still account for two thirds of funding for HIV in Africa, the continent most affected by the epidemic. Although more and more countries are increasing domestic investments for HIV, investments from donor governments remain an essential resource, ” Paul De Lay of UNAIDS said.