Workshop on ethical and social science implications of HIV cure research
I think -- and why wouldn't I? -- that the workshop topic is intrinsically interesting on many different fronts. Clinical cases which have been given strange Hollywood-sounding names (the Mississippi Baby, the Berlin Patient, and the Visconti Cohort) have indicated that we might be able to control HIV longer and more comprehensively than current antiretroviral treatment does. Maybe even cure it, whatever that means. What sort of ethical challenges would research in view of a HIV cure involve? What happens, socially, when a disease of this magnitude and global reach changes its status from incurable to treatable to maybe curable? What will this do, for better or for worse, to ongoing HIV treatment and prevention efforts? Is there something to be learned from other diseases in which a similar transformation occurred? What questions of justice will be raised by early introduction of potential HIV cures, given the problems of access to HIV treatment faced for decades by HIV-positive persons in developing countries? How does the new biomedical research on HIV cure relate to the many cures that have been claimed around the world, on a regular basis, since the beginning of the epidemic?