In the 1980s and early 1990s, the outbreak of HIV and AIDS swept across the globe. Medicine now knows that most viruses that survive anti-HIV therapy are defective and can not multiply.
Can stem cell transplant treatment cure HIV?
"Details of the new case, which will be published on March 10 in Nature, were scheduled for presentation at this week's Retrovirus and Opportunistic Infections Conference in Seattle". The procedure and its results were reported in the Lancet HIV journal. They also noted that the stem-cell treatment had been administered to address a separate illness.
Stem cells are very primitive cells made in the bone marrow. A stem cell transplant uses stem cells from your bloodstream or a donor's bloodstream.
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The patient reported in this study (the "London patient"), underwent one stem-cell transplantation, a reduced-intensity chemotherapy drug regimen, without whole body irradiation.
He emphasised that as a high-risk treatment, this therapy is unlikely to be offered widely to patients with HIV who are on successful antiretroviral treatment.
A previous case report from 2019 showed the London patient was experiencing sustained remission from HIV-1, although the researchers warned it was too soon to proclaim it a "cure".
"Now, I am looking forward to building a new path as an "Ambassador of Hope" for millions of people around the world living with HIV".
"The hope is that this will eventually lead to a safe, cost-effective, and easy strategy to achieve these results using gene technology or antibody techniques", he added.
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Tedros said having a name for the new disease is important to prevent the use of other names that might be stigmatizing.
Timothy Brown, the first person to be cleared of the virus, underwent a similar treatment for acute myelogenous leukaemia, although while both Brown and Castillejo had chemotherapy, only Brown had radiotherapy as part of his treatment.
Although he noted the journey was long and full of dark moments, he chose to reveal his identity and tell his story to inspire hope in others. "I do hope that me going public will give some encouragement and empower people to keep breaking the stigma associated with HIV". At 29 months, CD4 cell count (indicators of immune system health and stem cell transplantation success) was measured, and the extent to which the patient's immune cells have been replaced by those derived from the transplant. This genetic oddity prevents HIV from spreading in the blood.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an infection that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) without treatment.
"It's quite hard to imagine that all trace of a virus that infects billions of cells was eliminated from the body". So far, there is still no approved treatment or vaccine against the disease. Doctors theorize that whatever HIV was left hiding in their systems after the treatment wilted away because it had nowhere left to spread. It can be transmitted through sexual intercourse, sharing of injection drug equipment, or through blood transfusion.
Last year Castillejo's doctors were not sure that their patients really got rid of HIV. He is now leading a healthy and active life.
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However, his doctors say what healed him was not the HIV drugs.