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London man cured of HIV

Published on 12th March 2019
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  Red ribbon - symbol of awareness of HIV

After a second man has been cured of HIV, is there hope for a cure?

A second man from London has become the second person ever to be cured of HIV. HIV affects close to 37 million people worldwide and has killed 35 million people worldwide since the pandemic began in the 80’s. The male who has not been named was first diagnosed back in 2003. The patient was given a bone marrow stem cell transplant. He has now been in remission from HIV for 18 months and no longer requires HIV drugs so scientists now consider him cured.

The man was also suffering with Hodgkin’s cancer and received chemotherapy as well as stem cells. This lead to both HIV and his cancer going into remission. The stem cells he received were implanted from a donor who is resistant to HIV. This case comes 10 years after the first case, where a patient from Berlin was also treated with a transplant and remains HIV free to this day.

British Universities Involved.

Researchers from University College London, Imperial College as well as Cambridge and Oxford were all involved in the case.

Although this development is exciting it will not give a new treatment for the millions of people around the world who are living with HIV. Most people with HIV live a normal lifespan by taking a daily pill and stem cell procedures carry many risks. However, it could help experts understand how the body can naturally resist infection and that hopefully one day scientists will find a cure.

Prof Graham Cook, from the National Institute for Health research and reader in infectious diseases from Imperial College London said “The results are encouraging, if we can understand better why the procedure works in some patients and not others, we will be closer to our ultimate goal of curing HIV. At the moment the procedure still carries too much risk to be used in patients who are otherwise well.”