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While still aspirational, the concept of curing HIV infection is gathering momentum as basic science concepts move into clinical research studies. The International AIDS Society has led strong advocacy efforts, paving the way for “HIV cure” to transition from being a four-letter word to being a strategic research priority of all the main HIV funding agencies worldwide, including the United States National Institutes of Health. This research excitement will gradually return to the clinic when patients pose questions to their HIV clinicians about how to interpret the meaning of HIV cure research. But HIV clinical cure research today has only peripheral relevance to the clinical management of HIV-infected individuals and simply using the term “cure” with patients in the clinic may invite more questions than it answers. As language wields power and HIV cure research is still early, now is a key time to clarify the nomenclature in research and clinical contexts. We first examine the concept of “cure” and then review three conceptual frameworks (sterilizing/functional cure, sustained virological response (SVR), clinical remission) for explaining the meaning of possible HIV cure to HIV-infected patients. The SVR concept may be useful in clinical research settings, but the concept of clinical remission has greater explanatory power, especially outside of research settings.