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HIV/AIDS Cure 2019: Patients Confirmed in HIV Remission Spark Hope That Epidemic Can be Cured

A person is getting tested for HIV | Photo by GbergT (CC BY 2.0) / Flickr.com

HIV/AIDS cure is still elusive but the first half of 2019 has already been promising in this field. A second patient was confirmed to have been in HIV remission for about two years since having a bone marrow transplant — a success story that first happened almost a decade ago.

Timothy Brown, previously only known as “Berlin patient,” has been recognized as the first-ever patient to be “cured” of HIV. In 2007, he had a bone marrow transplant as treatment for his leukemia. They utilized cells from a donor with rare genetic CCR5-delta 32 mutation known to be resistant to HIV.

The transplant had successfully treated Brown’s leukemia and HIV has been undetectable from his body following the operation. In 2010, Brown’s case made headlines as he remained in HIV remission despite stopping his antiretroviral treatment sometime after the transplant. For the first time, there is a living proof that achieving an HIV/AIDS cure is possible.

That hope was revitalized this year. A case very similar to Brown showed positive results for a second patient, thus, reigniting hopes to see a cure for HIV/AIDS in the future. Scientists reported that an HIV-positive individual, only referred to as “London patient,” also went through a bone marrow transplant with cells from a CCR5-delta 32 donor to treat his Hodgkin's lymphoma.

The London patient has since been declared in HIV remission and has also stopped taking ART medications 16 months after the transplant. This was confirmed as the study was published on Nature medical journal in March. “Here we show that HIV-1 remission may be possible with a less aggressive and toxic approach,” the abstract of the research reads. This reminded everyone that, once again, the world has a chance to develop an HIV/AIDS cure.

The authors for London patient’s case, led by Dr. Ravindra K. Gupta, also noted, “Although at 18 months after the interruption of treatment it is premature to conclude that this patient has been cured.” However, the authors added that this development is proof that HIV remission can be achieved and there is a chance to find an HIV/AIDS cure.

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