Right to Try: activists challenge a flawed film about a potential HIV cure

Simon Collins

A short US film that promotes promotes a single case that’s suggested to represent a possible cure of HIV has been criticised by US activists for numerous inconsistencies and dishonesty. [1, 2]

These problems are carefully and calmly detailed in a review by Richard Jefferys from the Treatment Action Group, a leading treatment activist who is an expert on HIV cure-related research and who also has an impressive history of challenging dangerous conspiracy theories, including HIV denialism.

This film’s title refers to the recent US legislation that lets people with otherwise untreatable health conditions access treatment that have shown promise in early studies. But this doesn’t apply for either HIV (which has safe and proven treatment) or the intervention (as there is no evidence to show it is either safe or effective).

And rather than emphasising the decades of progress from ART that has normalised life expectancy for many, the poster subheading is: “How much would you pay to live?”.

The film provides little information about the procedure that was used, but instead claims to ‘uncover the business of HIV’. This involves attacking current treatment, other cure researchers and HIV organisations. Previous promotional material includes a conspiracy plot that large companies would try to stop cure studies. In reality, the largest companies investing in cure research are the same companies that are developing better treatments.

The TAG review notes that the subject of the film, Jeffrey Drew, a long-term survivor living with HIV comes across as warm and generous, and that his story is real and genuine. And that his motivation and involvement is to genuinely help other people.

It does not say this about the film-makers.


  1. IMDB. Right to try: how much would you pay to live. (26 mins).
  2. Jefferys R. Story: HIV Short Film, “Right To Try”. (8 December 2021).

This report was first published on 8 December 2021.

Links to other websites are current at date of posting but not maintained.