Second HIV-positive Adult Cleared Of Virus

HIV illustration

But in reality, a remission as seen in these patients, does not equal a cure.

Publishing in the science journal "Nature", researchers from University College London detail how they have achieved HIV remission in a man known publicly as the London Patient, making this the second of only two documented prolonged cases of remission of this kind in the world. The unexpected success has launched a new round of discussion about a potential cure for HIV.

It has been 12 years since the first HIV-cured patient was reported.

Experts universally hailed the case, even as they cautioned that the procedure that resulted in the likely cure - a bone marrow transplant to treat blood cancer - is too unsafe and costly to be applied as a general treatment for HIV, which can today easily be managed, though not cured, with pills.

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

Over 400 representatives from government agencies, worldwide organizations, community based organizations working with HIV patients, people living with HIV, and media agencies were in attendance in all the four launches.

Infection with HIV nearly always led to AIDS, which in turn was nearly always fatal. People with HIV are sometimes more susceptible to the development of cancers, but only a minority of people living with HIV have cancer. These medications are so effective that today a person living with HIV has nearly the same life expectancy of someone without HIV infection.

The third patient, from Dusseldorf, had apparently been HIV-free for three months, with no evidence of HIV in the gut and lymph nodes.

This complex treatment involves destroying a person's own immune system with high doses of chemotherapy or radiation.

His doctors found a donor with a gene mutation that confers natural resistance to HIV.

This is a hard treatment that carries a high risk of infection and other complications, such as graft-versus-host disease, blood clots and liver disease.

Both patients are registered to a research collaboration project called IciStem, according to a statement.

He's hoping that this second cure case will call attention to his work on another group of unusual people - not those with the mutation that makes them resistant to HIV, but another small fraction who test positive for HIV and yet never develop detectable virus, and never get sick.

"Besides, there are different subtypes of HIV, which require different coreceptors to produce an infection", he said.

There is now no cure for HIV. In 1997, David Ho of the Aaron Diamond Institute announced that the new crop of anti-retroviral drugs would probably be able to knock out the virus in patients after they continued the regimen for a number of years.

Although it is generally thought that HIV/AIDS cannot be cured, many patients with the virus can live a mostly normal life with anti-viral treatment that keeps the virus at a low level. While this helped to eradicate remaining host HIV-sensitive T cells, it does lead to damage to other tissues and organs, so it is not appropriate as a general therapeutic measure. Cells without a working CCR5 receptor are essentially locked up to the virus. He also underwent a bone-marrow transplant to treat his leukemia.

The key is finding a bone marrow donor with mutated CCR5 proteins, which prevent HIV from entering cells in the immune system, effectively "curing" HIV. Neither should anyone else.

At the conference in Seattle, scientists said the London patient had been free of HIV for 18 months without taking antiretroviral drugs. The two HIV-free patients described so far had to undergo destruction of their own bone marrow as part of cancer treatment.

Most importantly, the HIV community learned that Brown's case was not unique.

Scientists are hailing this as a triumph that may very well lead to a mainstream cure down the line, but they caution that this exact treatment is unlikely to have widespread applications. Read the original article.

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