Not so long ago using the words ‘HIV/AIDS’ and ‘cure’ in the same sentence would have been considered inappropriate, even reckless. Although there were many antiretroviral medications that were effective at helping control the virus, there was nothing that was even remotely close to a cure on the horizon. And those therapies that had been approved were not always readily available, even in the U.S., let alone in the hardest hit countries in Africa.
Today the picture looks quite different. Cure is no longer just a distant dream, it’s a goal. CIRM has two projects that we are funding in clinical trials – one led by Calimmune Inc. and one by City of Hope and Sangamo BioSciences – whose ultimate goal is to replicate the experience of the “Berlin patient” and effectively cure people with the virus.
And we are not alone, the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) supports a large portfolio of investigator-initiated grants in HIV cure research, including programs to identify where HIV hides, known as the HIV reservoir, and to determine how these hideouts are established and maintained and then to get rid of them.
With this progress in mind we are partnering with the AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), Being Alive and the University of Southern California (USC) to host an HIV/AIDS Town Hall event called “Countdown to a Cure: California Leads the Way.”
The goal of the event is to bring together members of the HIV community and leading researchers in the field to talk about the clinical trials that are underway now, and the other approaches that are being tried to cure AIDS.
Speakers at the Town Hall are Dr. Paula Cannon, USC; Dr. David Hardy, Calimmune; Dr. John Zaia, City of Hope; and Dr. Dale Ando, Sangamo BioSciences. The conversation will be moderated by Jeff Sheehy. Jeff is not only the CIRM Board Patient Advocate member for HIV/AIDS, he’s also a long time community activist in the fight against the virus. You can hear Jeff talk about his commitment to the cause in this video.
The event is on Thursday, July 30th from 5.30p to 8.30p and we’re providing food and refreshments. The location is Fiesta Hall, Plummer Park, 7377 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood, Los Angeles. And, of course, it’s free.
If you are interested in joining us and being part of the discussion please RSVP to: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 323-874-4322.
We look forward to seeing you there.