Research into a functional cure for HIV in neonates: the need for ethical foresight

Lancet Infect Dis. 2014 Sep;14(9):893-8. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(14)70766-2. Epub 2014 Jun 4.


In 2013, researchers announced that a newborn child from Mississippi, USA might have been functionally cured of HIV by being given combination antiretroviral therapy within hours of birth. Public and media attention has since been captured by the possibility of finding a cure for HIV transmitted from mother to child. Research into the strategy used for the Mississippi patient is crucially important to establish whether it can be replicated and shown to work in diverse populations. At the same time, any ethical issues likely to arise in such studies should be addressed and not ignored in the pursuit of a functional cure. In this Personal View we identify ethical issues that could arise in research towards achievment of a functional cure for HIV in neonates, including difficult trade-offs associated with choosing the study population and questions about the broader social implications of the research, and propose ways to resolve them.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research* / ethics
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical*