Is There An HIV Cure?

There is no cure for HIV. Taking and adhering to HIV treatment (ARVs) is the only way that HIV can be controlled and people living with HIV can stay healthy. Adhering, or adherence to, HIV treatment means taking ARVs every day without skipping or stopping.

Why HIV is hard to cure

The reason HIV is hard to cure and HIV treatment needs to be taken daily is because although ARVs can successfully stop HIV making copies of itself and harming the immune system, HIV also hides in the body. Experts call this hiding place the HIV reservoir. This HIV reservoir is not affected by ARVs and is how HIV bounces back if treatment is skipped or stopped.

Working towards a cure

Many clinical trials are currently happening around the world to try and develop a cure for HIV. However, experts are not close to finding one yet. When experts talk about a cure they talk about two kinds: Functional cures; and sterilising/eradicating cures.

Functional cures: Would lower the amount of HIV in the body to tiny, undetectable amounts so that HIV cannot do harm to the body, but the virus would still be present. Some experts say that HIV treatment (ARVs) is a functional cure because it controls HIV and results in viral load suppression. But most experts say that a functional cure would be one that can control HIV without the need to take treatment every day.

Sterilising/eradicating cures: Would get rid of all the HIV in the body including any HIV hiding in HIV reservoirs.

HIV vaccine versus HIV cure

There is currently no vaccine for HIV. However, experts are working on developing two different types of vaccines:

  1. Preventative vaccines that would prevent HIV in HIV negative people
  2. Therapeutic vaccines for people living with HIV that would control viral load and delay the progression of HIV.