A couple years ago, the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands convened dozens of leaders from science, government, philanthropy and industry at a meeting called the “Summit on Public-Private Partnerships for Research Toward a Cure.” IDRI was honored to be represented at this meeting as we discussed ways to bring HIV to an end. From this meeting the following strong and important consensus statement was agreed upon:
“More than 30 years into the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, scientific and clinical research has taken us to the point where a cure for HIV/AIDS is possible. Driven by the evidence supporting such possibility, The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands recently brought together key stakeholders from academia, government, foundations, and industry to discuss what actions could be taken to accelerate efforts towards the goal of a cure for HIV infection. The group concluded that now is the time to work collectively and aggressively to reach this goal with the ultimate objective of making a cure available to every person in need, wherever they happen to live in the world.
Although effective antiviral therapies exist that can control HIV infection, curing HIV/AIDS — eradicating the virus from infected individuals or eliminating the need for lifelong antiviral therapy — will require an extraordinary, collaborative global effort, backed by strong and sustained political and industrial leadership. We believe that developing a cure for HIV is one of the most important biomedical challenges of the 21st century. It is clear that the task is too large and too complex for any one laboratory, company, or country to undertake in isolation.
Rather, collaboration on an unprecedented scale is needed. Catalyzed by the meeting at Sunnylands, efforts to align the vision and mission have begun, and work is underway to establish innovative alliances through which to share scientific expertise to accelerate the search for a cure. Significant effort and resources will be needed to accomplish the goal, and the participants have agreed to prepare a strategic action plan in 2014 that connects the key stages of discovery, development, and delivery of a cure.”
Since the HIV Cure summit, the attendees and a growing number of stakeholders across a large spectrum of sectors have been building momentum toward the development of a cure for HIV. While this momentum is heartening, and key funders such as the U.S. NIH and amfAR have stepped up with initial financial support directed specifically toward the development of a cure, global leaders (whether in government, industry, academia or otherwise) should be made aware, accept and support the very real possibility that an HIV cure could become a reality.
The growing alignment of stakeholders toward this end is too important an opportunity to miss. Now is the time for global leaders to join us in this unprecedented collaborative effort. The positive impact on patients, health systems, economies, science and humanity would be enormous.