Social and Ethical Aspects of Research on Curing HIV
A Working Group
- Stuart Rennie
- Joseph Tucker
One of the defining qualities of living with HIV has been that it is incurable, and this tenet has powerfully formed and disrupted individual, organizational, and institutional identities. But recent medical advances have contested this basic fact, and now HIV cure research, once unimaginable, is at the center of public and scientific attention. On both clinical and public health grounds, the identification of an effective HIV cure would be a great achievement. At the same time, curing HIV is best conceived not simply as an absolute medical victory, but also as a social intervention whose meaning and effects are complex and uncertain. The goal of this working group is to investigate these complexities and uncertainties, drawing on the input and expertise of a diverse group of global HIV stakeholders. Throughout our project, we aim to develop a theoretical framework about HIV cure research and early implementation using historical, conceptual and ethical data; determine HIV cure stakeholder perspectives on cure research and early implementation; and develop an online forum to promote stakeholder engagement focusing on the social and ethical implications of HIV cure research. Our three research sites—located in Cape Town, South Africa; Chapel Hill, USA; and Guangzhou, China—give us an opportunity for powerful cross-cultural comparisons, which will help us us identify intersecting themes about unintended implications of HIV cure. This work will provide a strong foundation for subsequent HIV cure research and early implementation around the world.