Scientists are, wisely, wary of using the word cure, out of a laudable desire not to raise false hopes in those struggling with intractable health problems.
As regards the extraordinary case of the "Berlin patient" – a man whose HIV infection was mysteriously eradicated by a bone marrow transplant used to treat blood cancer – there is no less need for caution. Exactly why he shook off the disease is uncertain; neither is it clear that the same treatment would work on someone else; and, even if it did, any mass-produced cure is a long, long way off.
But the fact that Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, who shared a Nobel prize for discovering the Aids virus in 1983, is using the c-word in public is not to be taken lightly. Even with all the caveats, then, there is cause for hope, after 30 devastating years, that a cure for Aids will finally be found.