HIV 101: Why is There No Cure?

HIV 101

To-date, there is no cure for HIV and vaccine efforts have not yet demonstrated efficacy that can be scaled up.

Why is there no cure for HIV?

A true HIV cure means removing all of the HIV particles from a person’s body. This has been accomplished once, when an individual with genetic HIV-resistance donated bone marrow to Timothy Brown as part of a high-risk bone marrow transplant treatment for leukemia.

Although this case can’t be scaled-up, it has significantly informed the way scientists search for a cure, using strategies like altering the genetic make-up of immune cells to make them resistant to HIV, or even to kill HIV-infected cells.

Vaccine research efforts focus both on a preventative vaccine for those without HIV, as well as therapeutic vaccines used to control the virus in those of us already living with HIV.

HIV infects immune cells and has a high mutation rate. It also has the ability to hide in cells, which make it hard to find. These factors make vaccine development particularly challenging, and so far when these challenges have been overcome the response has not been sustained for a very long period.

As we continue the search for a cure, these and other complications are all taken into consideration by researchers funded by CANFAR.

Authored by Rodney Rousseau