Much HIV cure social science research has focused on high-income countries. Local key population perspectives, especially from people living with HIV (PLHIV), are needed in low- and middle-income countries. We organized an open contest soliciting responses from key populations, including PLHIV, about what a cure would mean in their lives. Tailored in-person events and social media were used to engage PLHIV, men who have sex with men (MSM), people who inject drugs, and local residents. We received 471 contributions over 4 months. Our thematic analysis showed that many people perceived that a cure would sterilize HIV and bring about new life for PLHIV. Many individuals believed a cure would decrease PLHIV discrimination and many MSM perceived a cure would decrease MSM discrimination. Some participants noted that a cure could help improve interpersonal relations, particularly with families and partners. Many individuals envisioned HIV cure as a panacea to bring about social stability. Some participants also anticipated changes in attitudes toward sex that may result in increased condomless sex. Our findings suggest a continued need for careful management of patient expectations and community engagement.
Keywords: China; HIV; crowdsourcing; cure; meaning.