Step one: cleanse the skin?
A second person appears to be cured of an HIV infection, investigators say. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.
In both cases of long term remission (as scientists are describing it), the patients had a bone marrow transplant.
More than 70 million people have been infected with the HIV virus and about 35 million people have died of it, according to the World Health Organization, since the global epidemic began almost three and half decades ago.
Experts are urging the media and the public to remain cautious about a cure. Other patients have experienced remission of symptoms, only to later experience a relapse.
Here’s what’s known about the history and treatment of “the London patient,” per Vox.
The London patient was diagnosed with HIV in 2003, and was diagnosed with advanced Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, in 2012. He wasn’t responding to chemotherapy. Like leukemia (and a growing list of other diseases), some forms of lymphoma can be treated with stem cell transplants, and doctors recommended he try one from a donor who also carried the CCR5 mutation.
The patient got the transplant in London in May 2016. The study, led by researchers at University College London and Imperial College London, did not disclose the name of the institution where the procedure took place. But the case is already helping scientists answer important questions about stem cell transplants for HIV.
The patient has chosen to remain anonymous, although the individual has given statements to some media outlets.
What could this second success mean for other patients? How far away is a widely accessible cure?
Produced by Avery J.C. Kleinman
- Maggie Fox Science & Health Editor & Writer; @maggiemfox
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Preet Bharara is the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.