By KARLI FEINSTEIN
For the second time in history a patient with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), the virus that causes AIDS, has been cured of the infection.
A man from Britain known as the “London Patient” was cleared of the AIDS virus after he was given a bone marrow transplant by an HIV resistant donor. The London patient is the second man in the world to be cured of this virus, 12 years after the first patient, Timothy Ray Brown, was cured in Germany in 2007.
The London patient and Brown were both receiving bone marrow stem cells from a donor with a rare genetic protein called CCR5, this protein fights against the HIV virus. Both the patients were also first treated originally for cancer, but the protein ended up killing the cancer cells as well as the HIV.
After three years of the transfusions and 18 months of not receiving anti-retroviral drugs, highly effective test shows no signs of the London patients’ previous HIV/AIDS infection. This makes the London patient the first patient since Mr. Brown to remain HIV/AIDS free for more than a year after stopping.
Ravindra Gupta, a professor at University College London and HIV biologist, co-led the team of doctors who treated the London patient. Gupta described his patient as “functionally cured” and “in remission.”
Gupta has been treating the London patient since 2003, when he was first diagnosed with HIV. In 2012, the patient was then diagnosed with blood cancer called Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
In 2016, when the London patient was very sick, the doctors decided to seek a donor that would fit for the transplant. According to Gupta “This was really his last chance of survival.”
According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, “The misperception that’s floating out there now is that bone marrow transplantation is now a cure for HIV infection and that is completely untrue.”
The overall cure for AIDS has not been found, but in some patients’ the infection can be killed depending on the situation. Even though doctors don’t want people to assume these transfusions can cure anybody with AIDS, it’s incredible to know that they are working on the step of finding the ultimate cure. Hearing this makes me feel blessed to live in a world with this much-advanced technology. I have faith that one day, AIDS/HIV will be gone forever.