Photo: Esther Lim

Cape Town - HIV researchers at Stellenbosch University want to take their research about the disease directly to people and will today launch an educational video that aims to teach communities about the disease and start conversations about the so-called HIV cure.

In an effort to raise awareness and debunk myths and stereotypes about the disease, the university’s Centre for Medical Ethics and Law, explains - through the video, in simple language - some of the difficult concepts around the “HIV cure”, including claims that certain vitamins or holy water cured the disease.

Professor Keymanthri Moodley, head of Centre for Medical Ethics and Law said while HIV treatment and prevention was well understood in the country, an HIV cure remained scientifically complex and not well understood.

She said while scientists were busy with research to find a cure through different concepts such as early treatment, therapeutic vaccines or gene therapies - there was confusion among society that was perpetuated by people who made false claims by selling “cures” such as vitamins.

“First, there is no cure as yet. HIV is still difficult to cure because even if we get rid of it from the blood with antiretroviral treatment, the virus can hide in various organs and come back to the blood later.

“At the moment the word remission might be a better word to use,” she said.

Through the video, which would be launched at Table Bay Hotel this evening, the university was trying to get patients to start thinking and talking, and ask questions that would help them better understand the concepts of a cure.

“This way they will be better prepared to discuss their participation in HIV cure trials in the future when they eventually start.

“The video also stresses the importance of using prevention treatment and cure together in the fight against HIV,” said Moodley.

Targeted at patients in clinics and hospitals, the video - which has been funded by a grant from the National Institute of Health in the US - talks about the experiences being HIV positive, various aspects of treatment, and traditional medicine use, among other things.

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Cape Argus