HIV and AIDS treatments have made huge strides in the past forty years. Now, the second human to be functionally cured of HIV is among us.
In recent days, doctors have claimed they have cured someone from HIV.
This is the second time in history the claim has been made.
But even though there are now technically multiple people who have been cured of HIV/AIDS, the doctors who treated this individual also warn that the procedure is very difficult. They say that it cannot be applied to the majority of people who have HIV or AIDS.
Still, progress is progress, and this news gives hope to the 35 million people globally who live with HIV/AIDS.
The man, who chose to remain anonymous, underwent an incredibly risky stem cell bone marrow transplant from a donor. This donor had a rare genetic mutation that made him HIV resistant.
It turns out that when transplanted to someone with HIV, this genetic mutation is able to fight off HIV effectively.
The doctors that have been monitoring the patient have been incredibly cautious in making their declaration.
They have been studying the individual for three years. And for half of this time, the patient has been off of the antiretroviral drugs that most people with HIV use to keep the disease at bay.
The tests have shown time and time again that there is no trace of HIV in the person.
Even now, the doctors are still urging caution with this discovery. One of the leaders of this procedure, Professor Gupta, said that they are describing the patient as functionally cured and in remission of his HIV. But they say that even three years is too soon to say that he’s entirely cured.
But the really strange thing is that the patient wasn’t even receiving a stem cell bone marrow transplant because of his HIV.
It was because he had Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of blood cancer.
The HIV fighting genetic mutation present in the donor’s marrow was just an incredible side effect of the cancer treatment.
There is a downside to this amazing finding. Gupta said that the procedure is expensive, complex and risky.
But more vitally, finding exact match donors with the resistant gene for people with HIV is incredibly rare.
This means that a cure for most people remains elusive.
There’s also another matter complicating the results.
This is technically the second time that someone has apparently been cured of HIV in this manner. And in both instances, the patients suffered from something called graft versus host disease after the procedure.
This is where donor immune cells attack the recipient’s immune cells.
It is speculated that this disease might be vital in causing HIV to be eliminated from a recipient’s body.
But even though this news doesn’t mean that a large scale HIV/AIDS cure is imminent, it does mean that many promising new avenues for study have been opened up.
It could be that the two individuals who have been cured to date have provided the first steps to unlocking a reliable HIV cure.
However, the results of the first person to undergo this cure remain positive. He underwent the procedure in 2007, and since that time, he has remained healthy and free of HIV, even without taking antiretroviral medication.
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