A 53-year-old German man has been cured of HIV, according to researchers but as you may or may not be aware, he is not the first!
This is actually the fifth proven example of an HIV cure, referred to as “the Düsseldorf patient” to keep his identity private, according to experts. Despite the fact that the specifics of his effective therapy were initially disclosed at a conference in 2019, doctors could not certify he had recovered completely at that time.
But four years after ceasing his HIV treatment, experts report that the Dusseldorf patient still has no traits of the virus in his body.
Dr. Bjorn-Erik Ole Jensen stated that “It’s really a cure, and not just, you know, long term remission. This positive symbol makes hope, but there’s a lot of work to do.”
Most HIV infections last a lifetime, and the virus can never be completely removed.
People with HIV can lead long and happy lives because of modern medicine, however, but a definitive cure is definitely still welcome, of course.
The patient from Düsseldorf joins a select club of individuals who have under unusual circumstances been cured following a stem cell transplant, which is generally only carried out in cancer patients who have no other choices.
A high risk operation called a stem cell transplant can successfully replace one’s immune system.
The main objective is to treat cancer, but in a few instances, the technique has also been successful in curing HIV.
HIV infects and kills immune system cells. In the absence of treatment, the ongoing damage can result in AIDS, also known as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, where a person is not able to fight off even a minor illness.
With 38.4 million individuals living with HIV worldwide, medications have advanced significantly.
Modern drugs can control the virus, and research is also being done on an HIV vaccine to prevent infection.
Timothy Ray Brown was the very first person to be cured of HIV. His story was described in a 2009 study as the Berlin patient.
The London Patient, which was published in 2019, came after that. The ‘City of Hope patient’ and the ‘New York patient’ were most recently published just last year.
Jensen mentioned: “I think that we can get many insights from this patient and from all these similar cases of HIV cure as well. These insights can give us some hints where we might be able to go to make the strategy safer.”
These four individuals got stem cell transplants as part of their treatment.
South Shore Health infectious disease director Dr. Todd Ellerin said that “When you hear of these HIV cure, it is obviously incredible, given how challenging it has been. But, it still is just the exception to the rule.”
It is too dangerous to recommend stem cell transplantation as a treatment for all HIV patients since it is a difficult surgery with many risks.
Scientists remain optimistic, nevertheless. Every time they successfully treat a new patient, they learn important lessons that improve their comprehension of what it would take to discover a general treatment.
Ellerin noted that “It’s obviously a step towards advancing the science and having us sort of understand, in some ways, what it takes to cure HIV.”