Physician perceptions of HIV cure in China: A mixed methods review and implications for HIV cure research

Asian Pac J Trop Dis. 2015 Sep;5(9):687-690. doi: 10.1016/S2222-1808(15)60913-6. Epub 2015 Aug 14.


There are over 100 clinical trials worldwide focused on developing an HIV cure. Research participants will assume substantial individual risks while receiving little or no individual benefit. Physicians will have important dual roles of leading HIV cure research studies and guiding patient expectations. Many low and middle-income nations have started HIV cure trials, including China. The goal of this study was to better understand physician attitudes, behaviors, and perceptions of HIV cure research within the context of China. We conducted a quantitative and qualitative evidence review of published literature on physician perceptions of HIV cure in China. Quantitative survey data revealed that physicians rarely believed HIV was curable, but this perception may be more common compared to other countries. Qualitative data showed that inconsistent terminology used among physicians may contribute to the perception of HIV as curable. The belief that HIV is curable among some physicians in China may be related to the influence of traditional Chinese medicine beliefs. Rather than seeking elimination of pathogens, traditional Chinese medicine aims to achieve harmony between organs and a vital life force. In this context, HIV infection can be seen as a temporary state of imbalance rather than an irreversible change. There is a wide range of physician perceptions about HIV cure in China. Conflicting information about HIV cure from physicians and other sources could thwart the progress of HIV cure research. Enhancing patient-physician communication about ongoing HIV cure research trials will be important for developing an HIV cure.

Keywords: China; Cure; HIV; Physician; Review.