Two HIV patients have been off their AIDS medicine for several months—almost four months in one case and almost two months in the other—and have shown no trace of HIV infection in their body. This came after both men received stem cell transplants to treat lymphoma in Boston. The announcement was made by Timothy Henrich of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston during an International AIDS Society conference in Kuala Lumpur.
As is the case with situations involving major medical and scientific breakthroughs, it’s a bit early to determine if something has taken all the way. Here, it would require some more time to see if HIV is gone entirely, but as it stands there’s no detectable levels of HIV in their blood. Last July showed that they had undetectable levels of HIV in their blood, of course at the time they were still taking suppressing medicine.
As it stands, stem cell therapy has been hard to get off the ground for reasons of religion mingling with politics—thus affecting the process of health and science—as well as the cost of such treatment. This does shine some light on the idea that there could be a new weapon to help fight HIV and AIDS.
The other significant case of HIV being effectively cured is Timothy Ray Brown. He received a bone marrow transplant for leukaemia in 2007 where stem cells were used as well. The main difference here is that the stem cells had a genetic mutation called CCR5 delta 32 which can make people resistant to HIV.
Kevin Robert Frost, a chief executive with the Foundation for AIDS Research applauded the results and the well-being of the two men saying, “Dr. Henrich is charting new territory in HIV eradication research,” The Foundation for AIDS Research also funded the study.