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March 09, 2016

The IAS urges leaders at UNGASS to look towards the example of the eradication of the smallpox virus for motivation to ensure the inclusion of HIV cure research and its global Development.

In 1967, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched an ambitious scientific strategy to eradicate smallpox, which was pushed back to the horn of Africa and then to a single last natural case, which occurred in Somalia in 1977. Scientists working on HIV cure research are inspired by the eradication of smallpox, not because of similarities between the smallpox virus and HIV (HIV is a retrovirus, and biologically very different from smallpox), but because of how a clear and focused scientific strategy managed to eradicate a disease which threatened 60% of the world's population, killed every fourth victim, scarred or blinded most survivors, and eluded any form of treatment.

The 2011 High-Level Meeting on AIDS is a unique global opportunity for partners to meet and move the AIDS agenda forward, and the International AIDS Society strongly believes that the inclusion of HIV cure research in the global agenda is a time sensitive priority if we are ever to envisage the eradication of viral reservoirs and subsequently the long-term remission of infected individuals.

1 Functional cure some HIV genetic material remains in the body, but the patient's immune defense fully controls any viral rebound, allowing patients to be free of antiretroviral treatment

2 Sterilizing cure no HIV genetic material can be found in the body, HIV infection is eradicated

Source: International AIDS Society