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Seattle Times letters to the editor

July 2, 2013 at 8:00 PM

Replicable AIDS cure still evades scientists

Prevention is key

German Dr. Gero Hutter, left, Timothy Ray Brown, center, and Washington University Dr. David Curiel pose for a picture after Hutter discussed his treatment of Brown at a symposium on gene therapy cures at Washington University. Brown was diagnosed with HIV in 1995. In 2007, he had a blood gem cell transplant to treat leukemia using a donor with a rare gene mutation that provides natural resistance to HIV. Hutter says that resistance transferred to Brown and that enough time has passed to say without hesitation that he is cured of HIV. [AP Photo/Jim Salter.]

German Dr. Gero Hutter, left, Timothy Ray Brown, center, and Washington University Dr. David Curiel pose for a picture after Hutter discussed his treatment of Brown at a symposium on gene therapy cures at Washington University. Brown was diagnosed with HIV in 1995. In 2007, he had a blood gem cell transplant to treat leukemia using a donor with a rare gene mutation that provides natural resistance to HIV. Hutter says that resistance transferred to Brown and that enough time has passed to say without hesitation that he is cured of HIV. [AP Photo/Jim Salter.]

I heard Timothy Ray Brown, the first person in the world cured of HIV, speak at Seattle University recently. Researchers are working hard to make a wide-reaching cure possible. [“Pioneer patient: ‘I don’t want to be the only person cured of HIV,’ ” page one, June 18.]

We don’t know how long this will take. I want to make sure the message the community is hearing is that we can end this disease today while waiting for a replicable cure tomorrow.

We need to prevent those living with HIV and AIDS from transmitting it to others. Discrimination, homophobia and stigma prevent people from getting tested and seeking treatment.

Complex socioeconomic factors, such as poverty fuel transmission make access to health care a major challenge. The words “HIV” and “AIDS” are still whispered, in the same way cancer was 30 years ago.

We can all play a role in the beginning of the end. Invest in prevention programs. Get tested. Help get people living with HIV on treatment. Talk about HIV and AIDS as you would any other chronic condition, such as cancer or diabetes, and help eliminate stigma.

Keep HIV in the public eye. To the more than 7,000 people living with HIV and AIDS in King County, this disease is far from over.

Randall Russell, CEO, Lifelong AIDS Alliance, Seattle

0 Comments | More in Health care | Topics: AIDS, awareness, HIV

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