Light at the end of the tunnel : second case ever of HIV / AIDS remission (glimmer of hope for millions of Africans)

A student displays his hands painted with messages as he poses during an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign to mark the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial. Photo : REUTERS / Ajay Verma

NEWSROOM (ADV) – This is an important step in the fight against the AIDS epidemic. For the second time in the history of medicine, a patient with HIV is officially considered cured by his doctors. The news was unveiled at an international conference in Seattle, USA. The details of this study are published today in the journal Nature.

Twelve years ago, for the first time ever, an HIV-infected patient was considered cured by his doctors, the man’s name is Timothy Ray Brown, he is now 53 and lives in California. But no medical team had managed to replicate this healing process for other patients. This time, another person, who wishes to remain anonymous but presented in the study as the London patient, is cured. After 18 months of remission, this person no longer needs anti-retroviral treatment.

Like 12 years ago, with Timothy Ray, this patient from London received a bone marrow transplant. Transplant performed with mutant immune cells resistant to HIV. This is a rare genetic feature found only in about 1% of the white population.

This explains why this operation is difficult to reproduce. It cannot be a solution for the 34 million people living with HIV worldwide. However, it allows to better understand the mechanisms of action of the virus.

The London doctors however who wrote this study, want to remain very cautious. True, HIV has disappeared from their patient but he will obviously remain under observation for many more months.

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