A woman in the United States is considered to be the third person in the world to be cured of HIV.
When the patient was being treated for leukemia, she had a stem cell transplant from someone who had developed natural resistance to the HIV infection.
For the past 14 months, the woman has been clear of the infection.
However, doctors argue the transplant process employed, which involves umbilical cord blood, is too dangerous for most HIV patients.
The patient’s case was presented at a medical conference in Denver on Tuesday, and it is believed to be the first time this procedure has been utilized as a functional cure for HIV.
The woman underwent an umbilical cord blood transplant as part of her cancer treatment and has not required antiretroviral therapy to treat HIV afterward.
The instance was part of larger research in the United States of HIV-positive people who had received the same sort of blood transfusion to treat cancer and other serious ailments.
The transplanted cells that were chosen contain a specific genetic mutation that prevents the HIV virus from infecting them.
As a result, scientists predict that recipients’ immune systems will build resistance to HIV.
All HIV cure tales are very exceptional and cause for joy because they demonstrate that it is possible.
This method, however, does not move us any closer to finding a cure for the 37 million individuals living with HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Timothy Ray Brown, the first person to be “cured” of HIV, revealed the potential of stem cell transplantation in 2007. He received an organ transplant from a donor who was naturally HIV-free.
The achievement has only been repeated twice since then, once with Adam Castillejo and recently with the New York patient.
All three were diagnosed with cancer and required a stem cell transplant to live. Curing their HIV was never the main goal, and the therapy is too dangerous to use on all HIV patients.
Remember that antiretroviral medication extends the life expectancy of HIV patients to near-normal levels.
Vaccines or medications that can flush the virus out of the body remain the main prospects for a cure.
Unlike the two earlier examples where patients received adult stem cells as part of bone marrow transplants, the woman’s treatment used umbilical cord blood.
Adult stem cells were formerly employed, however, umbilical cord blood is more widely available and does not require as close a match between donor and recipient.
The International Aids Society’s president-elect, Sharon Lewin, emphasized that the transplant approach employed in this case would not offer a realistic solution for most HIV patients.
However, she went on to say that the example “confirms that an HIV cure is achievable and supports the argument for gene therapy as a realistic option for an HIV cure.”
Because the findings of this most recent case study have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, there is still a gap in scientific understanding.