Bioethics Blogs

Workshop on ethical and social science implications of HIV cure research

Now here is a piece of shameless promotion. I am currently co-Principal Investigator (along with Dr. Joseph Tucker) of a NIH-funded research grant exploring the ethical and social implications of research currently taking place on a cure for HIV. As part of this project, our working group — with generous support from the Brocher Foundation and the UNC Center for AIDS Research — are holding a workshop next week on this topic at Brocher’s swanky conference center on the shores of Lake Geneva. Roughing it, I know. We will even have a Tweetmeister (or whatever they are called), sending real time bird-like signals about the goings-on in the workshop out into the Tweetosphere. The tweets will show up at @HIVCureWorkGrp, and workshop highlights will flutter over to our website at: http://searchiv.web.unc.edu.

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?

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.