A 66-year-old male in California has been HIV-free after receiving a stem cell transplantation for leukemia from a naturally immune donor.
The “City of Hope” patient is a man who, after being cured, refused to be identified. This is the fourth known case of a person being healed in this manner.
The patient was diagnosed with HIV in 1988 and has been controlling it for over 30 years using antiretroviral therapy (ART).
The cure has been described as the “holy grail” by Sharon Lewin, who called it “an inspiring tale that gives renewed hope and inspiration to those fighting HIV.”
According to the study, experts believe that the therapy succeeded in curing the patient since the stem cell donor had a rare biogenetic makeup that lacked the receptors necessary for HIV infection.
After ending antiretroviral therapy (ART) for more than a year, the man was HIV-negative according to doctors.
“He observed many of his friends and family members deteriorate from the illness and ultimately succumb to it, and he had felt some stigma as a result of having HIV,” says Jana Dickter, an infectious disease specialist who treated the patient. His success “provides potential for older patients to have this surgery both for their blood cancer and HIV.”
A woman in her 70s in Spain, who was diagnosed at 59, has shown encouraging signs of potentially overcoming HIV after stopping antiretroviral therapy (ART) more than a decade ago.
According to the The Wall Street Journal, the woman was treated with antiretroviral medicines for nine months and other therapies to strengthen her immune system following infection. Researchers discovered she had high levels of two different types of immune cells that the HIV virus normally suppresses and that probably assist in viral replication control, so she has been able to keep the virus under control.
Professor Steve Deeks, who is researching an HIV cure at the University of California, San Francisco, believes that new medical technology may soon lead to cures for the disease that are accessible to everyone.
“There are new gene editing techniques emerging that, with a single injection, might be able to produce similar results,” he added.