Informed consent for HIV cure research in South Africa: issues to consider

Staunton, Ciara (2015-01)

CITATION: Staunton, C. 2015. Informed consent for HIV cure research in South Africa: issues to consider. BMC Medical Ethics, 16:3, doi:10.1186/1472-6939-16-3.

The original publication is available at

Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund.


Background South Africa has made great progress in the development of HIV/AIDS testing, treatment and prevention campaigns. Yet, it is clear that prevention and treatment campaigns alone are not enough to bring this epidemic under control. Discussion News that the “Berlin patient” and the “Mississippi baby” have both been “cured” of HIV brought hope to people living with HIV/AIDS in South Africa that a cure for HIV/AIDS is within reach. Despite the recent setbacks announced in the “Mississippi Baby” case, protocols aimed at curing HIV/AIDS are being developed in South Africa. However with evidence to suggest that participants in clinical trials do not understand the basic concepts in the informed consent process, there is concern that future participants in HIV/AIDS cure research will lack comprehension of the basic elements of future clinical trials that aims to cure HIV/AIDS and confuse research with clinical care. Summary Research ethics committees have an important role to play in ensuring that participants understand the basic concepts discussed in the informed consent process, that they understand that research is not clinical care and they are unlikely to benefit from any early phase trials seeking to cure HIV/AIDS.

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