The word cure is powerful. While it often is used in relationship to the complete healing of a disease or condition, the root of the word cure means “to care for” or indicates “concern or responsibility.” At HopeSprings, we believe in a relationship-based, wholistic approach to the epidemic of HIV. In a word, we believe that we can be the “cure” to others through faithful presence with others, addressing all of life together. It is our responsibility to one another to display and embody concern and care for our siblings who are living with HIV or who are at risk.
It was recently reported that someone termed the “London patient” has achieved long-term remission of the HIV-1 virus through a bone marrow transplant. The original procedure was to address cancer, but by introducing stem cells which had a gene mutation that has shown resistance to HIV, the results also reduced the HIV virus in the body to almost zero. This is only the second time that this procedure has been completed successfully with the same results, the previous case being twelve years ago.
Though this is a remarkable outcome, many news outlets misreported this key medical breakthrough as being a “cure for HIV.” The researchers who published this study themselves stated it is “premature to conclude that this patient has been cured” though they are hopeful for the future results. While this is a significant step forward and may lead to more advancements in the fight to find a cure for the virus, it is not a cure. Moreover, it is not a viable or reliable option for most people living with HIV, as the procedure is conducted on those who have forms of cancer that are not treatable through traditional means. It is expensive and intensive, with many side effects.
There is a lot of focus on trying to find cures to modern diseases: cancer, HIV, lupus, and even the common cold. We hope and pray for the day that comes when these diseases and many others can be cured and consistently prevented. We long for an end to HIV and finding a cure is a key part of the work we must do.
Indeed, some members in the community view news like this to be a distraction or have significant concerns. This could cause us to miss our call to BE the cure to others. To focus on the resources that exist right now to help those who can live long and healthy lives with the right medication and support.
Until a medical cure is found and readily available, our responsibility remains: it is to love, care for, and serve one another in any way we can. For those who have the skills and gifts to continue researching for a cure, this is their way of caring for others. For those of us who have the time and means to serve and love our siblings each day, we can be the curers, the caretakers, the love-bringers right now, right where we are.
At HopeSprings, we believe that Until there is a Cure, Together, We Are the Cure.
Join us as we see hope and healing come to us all,
Rev. Derek H. Miller
Executive Director, HopeSprings