Changing the Trajectory of HIV
Working towards a cure for HIV requires many things – tenacity, determination, and collaboration.
In the early 1980s, when a patient received a diagnosis of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), the individual was often told to get their affairs in order. Their life expectancy could range from just a few weeks to a few months. Today, a person may receive the same diagnosis and live for several more decades.
"It's extraordinary because it was formerly a death sentence," says Nilu Goonetilleke, an immunologist in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) School of Medicine. "Antiretroviral therapies represent some of the greatest medical advances in the past 30 years — they have saved millions of lives."
In 2017, Goonetilleke received a $5.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study therapeutics that may strengthen the immune system's response to HIV. With the support of the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences (NC TraCS) Institute, the integrated hub of the CTSA at UNC-Chapel Hill, Goonetilleke is working toward her ultimate goal: to identify optimal strategies to find a cure for people living with HIV.