Why and where an HIV cure is needed and how it might be achieved


Despite considerable global investment, only 60% of people who live with HIV currently receive antiretroviral therapy. The sustainability of current programmes remains unknown and key incidence rates are declining only modestly. Given the complexities and expenses associated with lifelong medication, developing an effective curative intervention is now a global priority. Here we review why and where a cure is needed, and how it might be achieved. We argue for expanding these efforts from resource-rich regions to sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere: for any intervention to have an effect, region-specific biological, therapeutic and implementation issues must be addressed.

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Fig. 1: Pathways towards a cure.
Fig. 2: The cascade of treatment and control.
Fig. 3: HIV remission pathway.


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T.N. is supported in part by grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Gilead Sciences (grant no. 00406), the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) (UKZNRSA1001), the NIAID (R37AI067073) and the South African Department of Science and Technology through the National Research Foundation. T.N. is also partially supported through the sub-Saharan African Network for TB/HIV Research Excellence (SANTHE), a DELTAS Africa Initiative (grant no. DEL-15-006). The DELTAS Africa Initiative is an independent funding scheme of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) and is supported by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Planning and Coordinating Agency (NEPAD Agency) with funding from the Wellcome Trust (grant no. 107752/Z/15/Z) and the UK government. J.M.M. is an employee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. S.G.D. is supported by the amfAR Institute for HIV Cure Research (amfAR 109301), the Delaney AIDS Research Enterprise (DARE; A127966), and the NIAID (K24 AI069994). We thank W. Greene for assistance with Fig. 1. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AAS, NEPAD Agency, Wellcome Trust, the UK government, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation or amfAR.

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T.N. and S.G.D. produced the first draft. J.M.M. provided substantial additions and edits. All three edited and approved the final version.

Correspondence to Steven G. Deeks.

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Competing interests

S.G.D. receives grant support from Gilead, Merck and ViiV. He is a member of the scientific advisory boards for BryoLogyx and Enochian Biosciences and has consulted for AbbVie, Biotron and Eli Lilly. T.N. receives grant support from Gilead.

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Ndung’u, T., McCune, J.M. & Deeks, S.G. Why and where an HIV cure is needed and how it might be achieved. Nature 576, 397–405 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-019-1841-8

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