Written by Tim Lahey, MD, associate professor of medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine.
This year we have seen palpable progress in the fight against AIDS, and also some astonishing hucksterism. In celebration of World AIDS Day 2014, here are 10 of the most influential trends in HIV this year.
1. The cure, and its pretenders. To date only one person has ever been cured of HIV infection: Timothy Ray Brown, a resident of Berlin who received a CCR5-deleted bone marrow transplant while on potent anti-HIV medications. Recently we heard the word "cure" applied frequently but ultimately falsely to the Mississippi baby and some patients given ordinary bone marrow transplants. Everyone but Timothy has relapsed. Next year let's use the "C" word with caution, and for a great book on the search for a cure, try Cured: How the Berlin Patients Defeated HIV and Forever Changed Medical Science by Nat Holt.
2. A new model for AIDS. As I summarized in the Scientific American, Warner Greene's lab unleashed simultaneous papers in Science and Nature in late 2013 that upend how we understand the pathogenesis of AIDS. Through a stroke of luck reminiscent of the early identification of AZT - in which a promising new drug was already sitting on the shelf as a result of unrelated cancer research - Greene's group even moved a promising new approach to HIV treatment into clinical trials.