It has been 12 years since the first HIV-cured patient was reported. On Monday, doctors announced a second patient is seemingly HIV-free, and just a day later, researchers from the Netherlands revealed a “Düsseldorf patient” is also HIV-free at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle.
The Düsseldorf patient had a bone marrow transplant to treat cancer, the same as the other two patients said now to be HIV-free. After three months without taking his antiviral medication, gut and lymph nodes biopsies show no infectious HIV in his body.
The first patient ever said to have been cured of HIV was known as the “Berlin patient,” who in 2007 received a bone marrow transplant as part of treatment for leukaemia. He is still HIV free today.
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.
The transplant involves killing almost all the immune cells and replacing them with donor cells, and is so risky it can only be carried out on people with cancer. In the Berlin and London cases, the donor carried a rare gene mutation that makes them more resistant to HIV – a virus that infects immune system cells made in the bone marrow.
“Now we know the first case wasn’t an anomaly, but is something that can be shared,”said lead researcher Ravindra Gupta.
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