HIV Cure: Have You Grown More Hopeful?

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Finally, decades of research into the intricacies of HIV have led to a time when "cure" is no longer a four-letter word. But funding for vital research does not match the expansive need. And speaking of funding, an eventual cure can seem like a pipe dream when facing the day-to-day realities of providing services for people still living with HIV/AIDS, often with inadequate or unstable sources of support. So, to take the community's temperature on the HIV cure issue, we asked a number of advocates around the U.S. whether the passage of time had fanned the flames of their hope for a cure, or cooled it down.

Savannah Hornback

NYSDOH Prevention Planning Group and Community Healthcare Network, New York City

I have more hope. You know, that's the only way that I can continue doing work in this field, is to have that end result and that hope that one day there will be a cure and an end to HIV/AIDS.

Jeannie Wraight

HIV Haven, Bronx, N.Y.; Diagnosed in 1995

I definitely have more hope for a cure. Before Timothy Ray Brown's cure, the word "cure" was treated like a dirty word. No one spoke of curing HIV and if you did you were considered crazy or trying to swindle someone.

In the past few years there's been a huge emphasis on cure research. There's been progress and there is hope. The problem I see now is not a lack of focus but a lack of funds. And the money that is available for cure research is set up to be distributed in a way where innovative research and strategies are not encouraged. Other than not having enough money, the biggest battle I foresee is avoiding one mindset and not exploring novel ideas. We need new separate streams of cure funding.

Regardless of the problems, it is so nice to be having the discussion! Yes, I certainly do believe that a cure for HIV is on its way!

Walker Tisdale

Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness, Atlanta

I'm profoundly more hopeful that we'll find a cure. Profoundly. When I first started in this field, it was the late 1980s, and I was in college, and it was all about doing health education around HIV. I've seen the evolution of blood testing, where you give more educational information; to where you do counseling around behavior changes; to where you're doing rapid testing; to where, now, community-based organizations are doing this work. The advances keep coming, and I am more and more confident that a cure is on the way.

Michelle Lopez

Brooklyn, N.Y.; Diagnosed in 1991

I have more hope today for a cure for HIV. The advocates and the activist community, and researchers: What we have learned from this virus, and the mechanism and the pathogenesis of this virus -- because, as we know, there is no cure for the virus today -- but with our understanding of HIV and its mutation, I truly believe we are eventually going to have a vaccine that can be a cure and a preventative treatment for people so that those who are negative can stay negative and those who are positive can eventually be cured. I'm very hopeful.

Reggie Smith

Atlanta; Diagnosed in 1984

As time passes, I have more hope that a cure is biologically possible and will be found.  I know, though, that in order for a cure to be effective, it will take more than science for it to work in the human species.  I submit that we have reached a stalemate with the HIV retrovirus right now, but much like the story of the Wizard of Oz teaches us, the things we are seeking are inside us and have been there all the time.  How many times have we seen loved ones perish as a result of fear or lack of courage, negative thinking, or because they got little or no compassion and love from others?  I have more hope because more of us now realize that love overcomes fear and heals us all.

Nelson Vergel

Program for Wellness Restoration, Houston; Diagnosed in 1986

I definitely have a lot more hope about the cure than I have ever had. What people do not know is that HIV cure research has been going on for over a decade, but it has recently received a lot more attention and funding since Dr. Gero Hutter from Berlin cured Timothy Brown. We are waiting for information about other patients that have been exposed to the protocol that Timothy was given. Let's hope his case can be replicated as we try to find simpler, cheaper and less risky ways to cure people. I think this will happen in my lifetime. This excitement drives me now to spend a lot of my time as an HIV cure activist.

Jason Panda

b condoms, New York City

I think I find myself having a little bit more hope, and I think that some of the innovations that are taking place as far as medicines and research have given me that opportunity. As with anything, it's gonna take time. None of this happens overnight. But, what happens is, as we learn more and more about the virus, we can become more educated in terms of how do we not only adapt research technologies, but how do we adapt lifestyles, as well? Because it's a comprehensive approach that's really going to be needed.

Sherrie Burch

Community Counseling Center of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas

A total cure? I don't know if that'll ever even really be genetically possible. But, with the new medications, and more help, people are going to be able to live a normal life span. I'm not sure about a total cure.