A UK patient’s HIV has subsided following a stem cell transplant. This is only the second successful treatment of HIV ever. The London patient who was treated for cancer has now been in remission from HIV 18 months and is no longer taking HIV drugs. Scientists have long tried to duplicate the process that led to the first cure of a patient in Berlin 12 years ago, who is still free of HIV. With the UK patient, they finally have repeated the process only to have succeeded this time.
“There is no virus there that we can measure. We can’t detect anything,” said Ravindra Gupta, a professor and HIV biologist who co-led a team of doctors treating the man.
Usually, HIV patients expect to stay on daily pills for life to suppress the virus. When the drugs are stopped, the virus roars back in a span of 2-3 weeks. That didn’t happen with the London patient.
36 million people around the world are currently infected with HIV and the AIDS pandemic has killed around 35 million since its beginning in the 1980s. Among that 36 million, only 2 have been cured, which is a huge, huge deal.
The procedure in itself cannot be a one-stop solution for curing HIV since stem cell transplants carry a lot of risks. People with HIV can, however, stay fit and well by taking a pill every day for their remaining lives.