Those living with HIV were more willing to take a medication if clinicians described it as a “cure” as opposed to calling it “clinical remission,” according to the authors of a recent study.1

Researchers surveyed 454 people with HIV about how willing they would be to take a hypothetical HIV treatment that causes flu-like symptoms. Respondents were more willing to take the drug that was described as a “cure.”

Jennifer Blumenthal-Barby, PhD, MA, one of the study authors, says respondents were willing to take “significant risks” if it meant a drug could cure them. However, she and research colleagues could not determine clearly how respondents interpreted the word “cure.”

“The concern is that ‘cure’ wording might offer false hope and be misleading,” says Blumenthal-Barby, associate director at the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

In light of these findings, Blumenthal-Barby says clinicians and researchers should improve informed consent so that people living with HIV have a realistic understanding of treatment options and possible outcomes.


  1. Fridman I, Ubel PA, Blumenthal-Barby J, et al. “Cure” versus “clinical remission”: The impact of a medication description on the willingness of people living with HIV to take a medication. AIDS Behav 2020;24:2054-2061.