U.S. President Barack Obama today announced that the U.S. will invest research funds into the search for an AIDS cure. The announcement was part of an event held today at the White House to mark the 25th World AIDS Day.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) will be investing $100 million over the next three years specifically on AIDS research that is working toward a total cure for the disease. Such research is now seen as “promising,” after three decades of working to curtail the epidemic with antiretroviral medications.
Though a cure for AIDS is closer than ever, the NIH does caution that finding one will require a concerted effort and collaboration among the various organizations working for the cause. The goal of the efforts, according to the NIH, will be either a full cure for AIDS or a method to induce a lifelong remission of the HIV virus.
“Although the HIV/AIDS pandemic can theoretically be ended with a concerted and sustained scale-up of implementation of existing tools for HIV prevention and treatment, the development of a cure is critically important, as it may not be feasible for tens of millions of people living with HIV infection to access and adhere to a lifetime of antiretroviral therapy,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “Our growing understanding of the cellular hiding places or ‘reservoirs’ of HIV, the development of new strategies to minimize or deplete these reservoirs, and encouraging reports of a small number of patients who have little or no evidence of virus despite having halted antiretroviral therapy, all suggest that the time is ripe to pursue HIV cure research with vigor.”
With sequestration funding levels heavily affecting the HIH, the new AIDS cure funding will be gathered from existing NIH resources. Much of the funding will be redirected from expiring AIDS research grants. According to the NIH, the funds will be used for research on viral reservoirs, viral latency, viral persistence, and the neutralization of antibodies. Testing and clinical trials will also be supported through the funding initiative.