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Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center - fhcrc.org

A voice for HIV cure: Scientists, activists gather for Hutch conference

Scientists, activists gather for Hutch conference on gene therapy and hope for an HIV cure

By Mary Engel / Fred Hutch News Service

Aug. 25, 2014 - Matt Sharp is no scientist. But when he joins researchers from around the country tomorrow for a conference on using gene therapy to cure HIV, he will bring a perspective that few others in the room can match.

Sharp, 58, has been living with HIV since 1988. He is one of the activists who, early on, worked to make sure that people like him have a seat at the research table, as they will at the two-day Conference on Cell and Gene Therapy for HIV Cure at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and University of Washington scientists have identified a class of immune cells that reside long-term in the genital skin and mucosa and are believed to be responsible for suppressing recurring outbreaks of genital herpes. These immune cells also play a role in suppressing symptoms of genital herpes, which is why most sufferers of the disease are asymptomatic when viral reactivations occur.

"People who are going to be benefitting from the therapies should be at the table when the decisions are made, which is what people with HIV have said from the very beginning," Sharp said in a phone interview last week from his home in San Francisco. "We demanded it at first. We made it happen. Now it's become where if the community is not there, there's something really wrong."

Dr. Hans-Peter Kiem, a stem cell transplant researcher in the Hutch's Clinical Research Division and a co-host of today's conference, agreed.

"It's critical that people who are affected by this type of research are closely involved and can give us feedback," he said.

Read Full Article: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

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