Be careful how you use the word "cure"

A recent article said, “Scientist begin ground breaking tests of a potential HIV cure.” The word cure should only be used if there is a chance of a real cure and the report speaks of a new and improved thearapy, but not a cure. We should never use words that can give false hopes unless we plan to promote snake oil salesmen to the position of legitimate scientists.

Deros I agree with you that this term should be reserved for cases where the disease will be truly cured so that the patient is free of its symptoms and adverse effects with no need for further treatment. There are two points to be made in this particular case.

  1. The media in nearly all forms lives or dies by its readership. For this reason they often hype a story to get more eyeballs to click on the link. Its a bit of bait and switch wherein the story itself then informs you that the claim made in the headline is not in fact true or only a distant possibility. That is a problem with the media in general more so than the scientists although sometimes they are at fault too.
  2. The treatment discussed in this story may actually be a cure. They have found that some patients treated with this regimen have no detectable virus in their systems. While more work needs to be done to confirm whether this is proof of a cure ( there may be virus there which simply has not been detected), if its true then this would be a cure.