AIDS Cure Project


We don't need a new effort; it would just duplicate the intensive efforts underway.

The entire point of the AIDS Cure Project would be to eliminate duplication of effort. Since it would have access to all information on AIDS research, it could ensure that duplication was not occurring. Its own scientists would of course not do work that was already being done by the NIH or private companies. The Project emphasizes cooperation, not control.

It's silly to require scientists to study every off-the-wall theory.

The Project doesn't do that. It simply requires researchers to look at diverse theories. Initially, they must examine all pathogenesis theories, and determine which ones merit further study, but they are not required to take on every theory. Remember, Barbara McClintock was considered a "kook" by her contemporaries, and later received the Nobel prize.

The AIDS cure Project threatens the OAR reforms.

The AIDS Cure Project helps the OAR reforms! Those advocating for the OAR hopefully will realize that having us call for an extreme idea like the AIDS Cure Project helps their more moderate reforms. Throughout history, movements for change always have had radical, moderate and conservative branches. Single payer health proposals make Clinton's managed care proposals seem more reasonable to conservatives. Martin Luther King's more "reasonable" demands were helped by the presence of Malcolm X. There's no reason our Project has to compete with anyone else's. They each serve a different purpose.

We need to give the OAR reforms time to work.

The OAR reforms were written when it seemed likely that Bush would win re-election. As such, they are not the type of intense change many feel is essential to find a cure. While they will hopefully be useful in improving coordination at the NIH, they do not address the areas we feel are most important: lack of diverse theories, drug company power, competition over cooperation, the scramble for university grants, and the "old boy" network. Also, it will be years before the OAR has control over the majority of the NIH AIDS budget. Are we supposed to remain silent for 5 or more years?

Money for the Project will inevitably be taken from the NIH, and hurt its efforts.

This is tantamount to surrendering before the battle is even fought. To say that we can't ever ask for ANYTHING more because such a request holds the risk of taking money from the NIH means no new proposals can ever be put forward, no matter how badly the NIH does. The AIDS Cure Act specifically states that the Project will consist of new monies, and it's premature to kill it before it even has Congressional hearings just because it MIGHT take money from the NIH.

You'll never get $2 billion in today's political climate.

Once again, this is defeatism. Of course we'll never get it if we don't ask for it. AIDS is now the leading cause of death in young men in America, and the 4th leading cause in young women. It deserves special treatment, and public opinion polls strongly support sharp increases in AIDS research funding. Everyone wants a cure, and if we can build a massive demand, the money will appear, like Midwest flood relief. Actually, $2 billion out of the federal budget is a pittance compared to some military programs.

There's no need to insist on a primary location.

There was a need during the Manhattan and Apollo Projects, and it was NOT security reasons. In a problem as complex as AIDS, the only hope for speedy discoveries is to create an environment in which creative thinking can flourish. Ideas don't happen over computer terminals; they happen when brilliant minds start brainstorming in person. This was recognized in the M & A Projects, and it's vital if we're to move beyond the stagnant approaches we've been following in AIDS research.

Scientists will never rescind their conflicts of interest.

If they won't, then we're all dead. If scientists are only in research to make money, we may as well give up now. The AIDS Cure Project is built on the premise that there are researchers who truly want to do science for science' sake,and who would welcome the respite from grant writing and endless presentations to fund their labs. Some call these monetary ties the "lifeblood" of research. We feel they serve only to skew the research agenda toward the development of marketable drugs. How could they do otherwise? Also, researchers would only suspend their ties for a limited period - 2, 3, 4 years or so - and this is common among Presidential Cabinet members.

The eminent domain piece will drive drug companies from research.

Eminent domain is meant to be an incentive to work with the Project, not a willy-nilly seizing of patents. The AIDS Cure Act contains many steps before eminent domain powers are used. A drug company will be given every opportunity to develop a drug on its own, or to work with the Project. What company would refuse, and lose its patent, if there was an offer of help from the Project? It is obvious that the power of eminent domain would never be used during the Project, but its presence would be a powerful incentive to end the competitive and secretive nature of drug development.

People with HIV shouldn't control research; scientists should.

We feel this is the only way to ensure that the Project maintains the urgency that is necessary to find a cure quickly. People with HIV would NOT control the science of the Project, but the researchers would be accountable to the Governing Council, which would have a majority of people with HIV. If scientists return to the "same old, same old" approach, they'd have to justify this to a group of people whose lives depended on their research. If we're going to give scientists the kind of sweeping powers necessary to cut through the red tape, they must be accountable to us.

How can you think that allowing the government to take over all drug development would be helpful?

Once again, this was never the intent of the Project. The Project exists to explore new avenues of research, while ensuring that duplication of effort does not exist elsewhere. In no way would the Project take over all drug development. If a company was pursuing a good faith effort, it would receive little interference from the Project. This is not a nationalization of all AIDS research. This is a new approach to coordinate and augment current efforts.

The Ryan White Councils are a bad place to find people for the nominating Congress.

This is simply a suggestion, and it is extremely premature to shoot down the Project on details such as this. Obviously, if the Project passes Congress, it will look quite different than its present form. The Ryan White Councils are proposed as a way to find a group of diverse people infected/affected by HIV from across the country, but other proposals for how to select the nominating Congress are certainly welcome. In addition, this is not a part of the AIDS Cure Project, only HR 4370. We are not seeking endorsements for the bill, only the two-page "Demand." This is a minor detail that will most likely be changed anyway as the bill moves through Congress.


  • NIH Background Paper

  • AIDS Cure Project Questions & Answers

  • AIDS Cure Project Argument