Medicine

UNAIDS Encouraged By Possible Cure of HIV

UNAIDS Encouraged By Possible Cure of HIV

But in reality, a remission as seen in these patients, does not equal a cure. The unexpected success has launched a new round of discussion about a potential cure for HIV. Getting shots at a clinic can lend more privacy to patients anxious about the stigma of filling an HIV prescription at a pharmacy, said Dr. Susan Swindells of the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, who presented results Thursday at an HIV conference in Seattle. Pills taken daily can keep HIV levels so low the virus is not transmittable to sex partners, but not everyone takes them as prescribed. Researchers in both cases have been explicitly clear that, while it appears that both men are now living HIV free, it will take longterm trials over many decades to determine if this really is a cure or if we are talking about an extended time without HIV being able to effect the patients' bodies. There are about 38,000 new cases reported each year in the United States and 1.8 million worldwide.

Infection with HIV nearly always led to AIDS, which in turn was nearly always fatal. In 2016, a cancer that affected his immune system developed. These medications are so effective that today a person living with HIV has nearly the same life expectancy of someone without HIV infection.

The next big question is how the knowledge gained from CCR5 stem cell transplants might actually help create a true cure for HIV.

All of that seemed to change when in 2008 at the Conference on Retrovirus and Opportunistic Infections in Boston, Massachusetts, the news broke of the Berlin patient, named Timothy Ray Brown, who seemed to have been cured of his HIV.

This complex treatment involves destroying a person's own immune system with high doses of chemotherapy or radiation. Both the Berlin and London patients had this complication, which may have played a role in the loss of HIV-infected cells, Gupta said. For the same reason, it is used only as a last resort even for cancer patients.

The two recent cases are part of the IciStem program, which is a collaborative venture of researchers and clinicians dedicated to HIV eradication, according to a release from IciStem.

Not coincidentally, the stem cells that both patients received in the transplant came from donors with a double set of this rare CCR5 mutation. This renders them resistant to most HIV infection.

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There is now no cure for HIV.

Top panel illustrates the treatment course for the London patient.

The patient treated by the UCL team was also battling lymphoma, a cancer of immune cells, which is a common complication of long-term HIV infection. HIV uses the protein to enter the cell, but it can not attach to the mutated version.

Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said the latest study done in Britain shows the possibility of curing HIV/AIDS through stem-cell transplants and is a ray of hope to those living with HIV. Neither should anyone else.

On Monday, doctors revealed a second patient, called the "London patient", had been off his antiviral medications for 18 months following his bone marrow transplant cancer treatment and had no signs of HIV.

It is noted that bone marrow transplantation cannot be applied for HIV-positive patients who do not have cancer.

Most importantly, the HIV community learned that Brown's case was not unique.


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