(Der Spiegel) In recent years, a spate of findings have shown that HIV can essentially be eradicated in some patients. Now scientists are scrambling to finally find a cure that could drastically change the lives of millions of people worldwide.

HIV specialist Stefan Fenske’s medical clinic, located in Hamburg’s university district, isn’t a moribund place. The rooms are filled with light, the walls are decorated with modern art and you can hear laughter. Werner Thomas (not his real name) is in a good mood as he sits in the consultation room discussing his illness. The 63-year-old refers to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that nestled into his body over 23 years ago as a “subletter,” not an enemy or a deadly threat.

Every three months, Thomas travels to Hamburg from the nearby small town where he lives. Blood samples are taken and 15 minutes later he heads home again. “Some healthy people would be happy to have test results like mine,” he says. His physician, Dr. Fenske, is also satisfied: “His smoking is definitely a bigger health risk for him than the virus.”

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