For the second time since the global epidemic began, a patient appears to have been cured of infection with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. Publicly, scientists are describing the case of the anonymous “London patient,” as he is known, as a long-term remission. Most experts are calling it a cure, with the caveat that it is hard to know how to define the word when there are only two known successful cases.
The news comes nearly 12 years to the day after the first patient (known as “the Berlin patient”) known to be cured, a feat that researchers have long tried, and failed, to duplicate. Both milestones resulted from bone-marrow transplants given to infected patients. But the transplants were intended to treat cancer in the patients, not H.I.V.
Bone-marrow transplantation is unlikely to be a realistic treatment option in the near future. Powerful drugs are now available to control H.I.V. infection, while the transplants are risky, with harsh side effects that can last for years. However, equipping the body with immune cells similarly modified to resist H.I.V. might well succeed as a practical treatment, experts said.
The investigators’ report will be published in the journal Nature and they will present some of the details of their findings at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle.
Source: The New York Times, March 4, 2019