Man 'cured' of HIV

Man 'cured' of HIV

But cure is not around the corner, and infected patients are nowhere near a situation in which they can hope to stop taking their pills soon.

News of the patient, who is located in Düsseldorf, Germany, came just a day after the second known patient to experience long-term remission from HIV without medication was first reported.

Ten years after the first confirmed case of an HIV-infected person being rid of the deadly disease, a man known only as the "London patient" has shown no sign of the virus for almost 19 months.

"By achieving remission in a second patient using a similar approach, we have shown that the Berlin patient was not an anomaly, and that it really was the treatment approaches that eliminated HIV in these two people", Gupta said.

However, Gupta described his patient as "functionally cured" and "in remission", rather than "cured".

A London man appears to be HIV-free after a stem cell transplant - a unsafe and risky procedure. The circumstances of this cure do not apply to those of us who have been living with a HIV diagnosis for many years; the risks involved are too great.

Stem cell transplants typically are harsh procedures which start with radiation or chemotherapy to damage the body's existing immune system and make room for a new one. He also received less aggressive conditioning chemotherapy (lomustine, cyclophosphamide, cytarabine and etoposide), alemtuzumab (Campath, a monoclonal antibody that targets CD52 on malignant B and T cells), and cyclosporine-A and methotrexate, immunosuppressive drugs used to prevent graft-versus-host disease (when transplanted immune cells attack the recipient's body).

Infection with HIV nearly always led to AIDS, which in turn was nearly always fatal.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 70 million people have been infected with the HIV virus and approximately 35 million people have died since the epidemic swept through the world in 1981.

Even more incredible, besides the "London patient", another person, known as the "Düsseldorf patient", has also been off HIV drugs for four months.

"They used a reduced intense conditioning regimen but I think that had no influence on the outcome", he said.

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Gupta and his team emphasised that bone marrow transplant - a risky and painful procedure - is not a viable option for HIV treatment. The patient, however, had another treatment that appears to have helped his condition.

Now doctors have said that, together, the cases provide proof of concept that a cure may be possible for everyone, although the invasive treatment would have to be adapted radically.

The patient has been in remission for 19 months, the International Aids Society said.

Like the first, and only, person known to be cured - former San Francisco resident Timothy Ray Brown, dubbed the "Berlin Patient" - the London man underwent a bone marrow transplant to treat advanced cancer.

Graham Cooke, a professor of infectious diseases at Imperial College London, said in a statement to the Science Media Centre that the new study is "encouraging".

PhD student works with HIV virus in the Biosafety Level 3 lab of the Institute of Biomedical Research in Retroviruses and AIDS (INBIRS). Although it is not a viable large-scale strategy for a cure, it does represent a critical moment in the search for an HIV cure.

"In Kenya, we have the ongoing HIV vaccine trials, and we look forward to the announcement of preliminary results in the next two to three years", he told People Daily after news of the London achievement dominated news wires across the globe yesterday.

"There are actually many strategies right now that are currently being pursued", Henrich said.

"Having a bone marrow transplantation is a very complicated process", she said.

Scientists are also examining immune modifying therapies. "I do have hope".

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