Towards an HIV Cure

MISSION: To drive concerted efforts to accelerate global scientific research and engagement towards a cure for HIV.

The toolbox of interventions for fighting the global HIV pandemic has grown exponentially since the discovery of the virus, but a cure has remained beyond our grasp. In recent years, however, research to develop a cure for HIV or long-term remission has made promising progress, galvanizing researchers, advocates and community members alike. To that end, the mission of the IAS Towards an HIV Cure initiative is to drive concerted efforts to accelerate global scientific research and engagement towards a cure for HIV.

Learn more about the Stakeholder’s Advisory Board and the Working Groups


Engaging key stakeholders to address the barriers to an HIV cure

The Towards an HIV Cure initiative is committed to leveraging a well-informed, multidisciplinary network of stakeholders to advocate for and ensure the prioritization of HIV cure in the global health agenda. In support of this vision, the initiative is overseen by a Towards an HIV Cure Advisory Board of experts representing governments, UN agencies, civil society organizations and foundations. The advisory board provides strategic advice and engages stakeholders in the initiative’s long-term strategy to inform global policy, programmes and funding.

An important component of the initiative’s efforts to engage a broad spectrum of stakeholders is the Industry Collaboration Group (ICG). The ICG works to bring together private sector partners and cure researchers to facilitate collaboration.

Towards an HIV Cure also frequently works with thought leaders in the field to coordinate and co-author the publication of articles, policy papers and opinion pieces on issues ranging from ethics in cure research to the role of public-private partnerships.

Advocating for increased investment and resource optimization

It is clear that success in the search for a cure for HIV will require sustained and predictable funding over a number of years. The Towards an HIV Cure initiative has partnered with the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (AVAC) to estimate global investments in HIV cure research through the Resource Tracking for HIV Prevention R&D Working Group. This work culminates in the publication of an annual resource tracking paper, Global Investment in HIV Cure Research and Development in 2018, which identifies trends and monitors global investments in HIV cure research funding.

Featured work:

Fostering public-private partnerships to accelerate research
A major achievement to accelerate HIV cure research and lighten the red-tape burden for pre-clinical studies was the development of a Common Material Transfer Agreement (cMTA) by the IAS ICG for combinational use of marketed compounds in antiretroviral therapy. The finalization of the agreement, approved by ViiV Healthcare, Gilead, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson and Merck, was announced in January 2016. To find out more about the role of the cMTA and its anticipated impact in the field, please read the IAS blog article, co-authored by members of the Towards an HIV Cure ICG.

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Advocating for increased funding for HIV cure research
The most recent edition of the resource tracking paper, Global Investment in HIV Cure Research and Development in 2018, estimates that a record US$323.9 million was invested in cure research last year, representing a 12% increase over 2017.

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Stimulating innovative and original research

The rapid advancement of HIV cure research has presented clear opportunities for increased engagement between HIV researchers and their counterparts in other specializations. To foster this exchange, the initiative leverages the facilitating power of the IAS to merge the HIV cure and cancer disciplines to accelerate the pace of discovery in HIV cure research.

Since 2012, the initiative has convened its annual Towards an HIV Cure Symposium to provide researchers with an opportunity to present and discuss novel strategies for advancing and overcoming challenges in HIV cure research. For further information on the annual symposia and access to online materials, please see our past events.

Providing a roadmap to guide research directions

The first "Towards an HIV Cure: Global Scientific Strategy" was published in Nature Reviews Immunology in 2012. This, with its Full Recommendations, presented the first global overview and strategic plan for HIV cure research. 

As both challenges and opportunities in HIV cure research continue to evolve, the IAS convened a multidisciplinary International Scientific Working Group of leading basic, clinical, and social scientists, ethicists and global stakeholders to develop a second Global Scientific Strategy to serve as:

  • A guide for scientific research, to address the most critical knowledge gaps and outstanding questions in the field
  • A tool for funders and policy makers, to guide their support for the most effective and efficient research to advance the HIV cure agenda
  • A framework for advocates, to support high-quality, ethical and cost-effective research that can lead to a cure for HIV.

Featured work:

Engaging researchers from outside the field
The Towards an HIV Cure initiative hosted the IAS HIV Cure & Cancer Forum in Paris on 22 and 23 July 2017, focusing specifically on the interface between HIV cure and cancer research.

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Focusing research efforts to advance the search for an HIV cure
In July 2016, the IAS published the second "IAS Global Scientific Strategy: Towards an HIV Cure 2016" in Nature Medicine. It made the Full Recommendations and Global Strategic Approach available online.

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Promoting the next generation of HIV cure research in resource-constrained settings
The IAS is partnered with the Department of Science and Innovation, Sidaction and the School of Health Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand to host the 2019 Research-for-Cure Academy in South Africa, November 2019. The Academy awarded fellowships to  26 talented investigators and clinical scientists conducting HIV research in resource-constrained settings to participate in a three-day interactive workshop on HIV cure research.

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Collaborating with community to ensure a multilateral and cohesive response

A key objective of the Towards an HIV Cure initiative is to support the meaningful engagement of people living with HIV in the IAS’s efforts to promote the acceleration of global scientific research into a cure or remission. Through working groups and committees made up of diverse stakeholders, the initiative is bringing together leading scientists, community members and patient association representatives to influence policies relevant to the advancement of HIV cure research.

Increasing knowledge of HIV cure through capacity building and training

The Towards an HIV Cure initiative is dedicated to providing the resources needed to widen the circle of individuals directly involved in cure research and advocacy. Through its annual scholarship programme, the initiative makes a number of scholarships available each year to young investigators, investigators from resource-limited settings, peer educators and community representatives to support their attendance to the IAS HIV cure meetings. Scholarship recipients have the opportunity to engage with key stakeholders in HIV cure research and disseminate the information learned within their communities.

The IAS also organizes a number of educational workshops with strong interactive elements and input from community members in the presentations and discussion to increase the knowledge and expertise of junior investigators and local peer educators. Workshops have been organized in India, Australia, Canada and South Africa; for workshop materials and programmes, please visit our past events.

Featured work:

Supporting locally-based HIV cure advocacy organizations and projects
In partnership with AVAC, the Advocacy-for-Cure Grant Programme supports selected Advocacy-for-Cure Academy alumni to implement locally-tailored HIV cure advocacy projects. Following a competitive selection process, three grantees in Kenya, Zambia and Uganda are implementing their respective campaigns over a nine-month period.

Meet the grantees

Advancing the HIV cure field in resource-constrained settings
The IAS and AVAC partnered to host the inaugural Advocacy-for-Cure Academy in Uganda, May 2018. The academy awarded fellowships for 29 talented advocates working in resource-limited settings to participate in a three-day training and development course on HIV cure advocacy.

Meet the fellows

Translating science to inform advocacy for an HIV cure
The Towards an HIV Cure initiative is partnering with international and local civil society organizations to host an interactive HIV cure research literacy workshop on 21 July 2018 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

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The Towards an HIV Cure initiative would like to thank the following organizations for their generous support in 2020: