(Photo Credits: National Institutes of Health (NIH) [Public domain])

A British patient who had contracted HIV in 2003 has been cleared of the AIDS virus almost three years after he received a bone marrow transplant from an HIV-resistant donor, and 18 months after he stopped taking his antiretroviral drugs.

The man, now widely referred to as the “London Patient,” is only the second known person in the world to have been “cured” of HIV. Professor and HIV biologist Ravindra Gupta who co-led a team of doctors who treated the man cautioned that, “It’s too early to say he’s cured.” Thus, he describes his London Patient as “functionally cured” and “in remission.” 

According to Reuters, Gupta said that their team had done several “highly sensitive tests” but results “show no trace of the man’s previous HIV infection.” Gupta added that the decision to treat the London Patient with a bone marrow stem cells procedure was brought about by another diagnoses in 2012: he had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. 

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer and it was in 2016, when “he was very sick,” that doctors decided to “seek a transplant match for him.” Gupta said it was London Patient’s last chance to survive. The donor (not related to the patient), is a carrier of ‘CCR5 delta 32,’ a genetic mutation resistant to HIV.

Gupta said that his team “plans to use these findings to explore potential new HIV treatment strategies.” He explained, “We need to understand if we could knock out this (CCR5) receptor in people with HIV, which may be possible with gene therapy.” 

Read the entire story at Reuters.

The first patient was an American man named Timothy Brown who lived and underwent similar treatment in Berlin. His cure was first announced at the 2008 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections where he was called “The Berlin Patient.”

This major AIDS breakthrough brings hope for an HIV cure just as this latest HIV surveillance report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) comes in. 

The report says that “progress in HIV prevention has stalled” because of “lack of effective HIV prevention and treatment in rural areas and the south, primarily among African-Americans and the Latin community” and therefore there is a “need for immediate action.” 

Below shows the HIV infection trend in the US by race/ethnicity and age from CDC and we quote:

  • infections remained stable among black gay and bisexual men
  • an increase of 30 percent was seen among Latino gay and bisexual men
  • there is a decrease of 16 percent among white gay and bisexual men
  • there is a decrease of more than 30 percent among black gay and bisexual males ages 13 to 24
  • infections remained stable among Latino gay and bisexual males ages 13 to 24
  • but there is an increase of about 65 percent among both black and Latino gay and bisexual males ages 25 to 34
  • there is decrease of about 17 percent among heterosexual men and women combined, including a 15 percent decrease among heterosexual African American women
  • there is a decrease of 30 percent among people who inject drugs, but appear to have stabilized in more recent years.

Read CDC’s their report in full here.

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