amfAR: amfAR recently launched its Countdown to a Cure initiative (C2C), setting an ambitious target of establishing the scientific basis for a cure for HIV by 2020. Why did you and amfAR’s Board feel that this was the right time to launch that campaign?
Cole: This is a very powerful moment. We’ve made significant progress towards having a clear sense of what has to happen for us to have a cure for the 35 million people living with this virus. The fact is we won’t find something we’re not actively looking for. And we’re not going to find it today if we don’t start looking until tomorrow. So we elevated our commitment to finding a cure and created a deadline. It’s ambitious, but I think if we roll up our sleeves and energize the will to bring this epidemic to an end, not only within amfAR, but in Washington and elsewhere, we can do something that is truly transformative and help make AIDS history.
amfAR: You have been on the board of amfAR for 25 years. What amfAR accomplishments have been most exciting to you?
Cole: The needs of people living with HIV cannot be addressed without research, and amfAR is one of the few organizations dedicated to supporting that research. We also advocate for research funding and for policies based on science. In 2010, we created the amfAR Research Consortium on HIV Eradication (ARCHE). ARCHE brings together scientists and funds them to do collaborative cure research, and it was that collaborative approach that led to the breakthroughs that caused us to launch C2C. This is a very exciting research initiative that I believe will really help accelerate our search for a cure.