Good News! HIV Now Has A Cure Possible

Good News! HIV Now Has A Cure Possible

Good News! HIV Now Has A Cure Possible

For the third time in history, a person living with HIV is reportedly free of the virus after undergoing a bone marrow transplant, reports the New Scientist. If approved, the shots would be a new option for people with HIV and could help some stay on treatment.

But just like the protease inhibitors and triple therapy were not a cure in 1996, the eradication of HIV from the bodies of two men across more than a dozen years undergoing stem cell or bone marrow transplants with cells that have the CCR5 genetic mutation is simply not the promise of an impending cure for HIV for at least four important reasons: it is highly unsafe; it is extremely expensive; it is not scalable; and it is not sustainable.

"While the development is exciting, it cannot be applied to a normal HIV patient who can be treated with the regular anti-retroviral drugs, as the London man was also suffering from cancer of the immune system", Badarkhe said.

Content image- Phnom Penh Post
Graphic on how HIV attacks white blood cells. JOHN SAEKI ADRIAN LEUNG AFP

He later developed cancer and agreed to undergo a bone-marrow transplant for treatment.

You may have noticed that I have repeatedly referred to this treatment as an "apparent cure" and more frequently HIV remission, and this is for a good reason.

The transplant involves killing nearly all the immune cells and replacing them with donor cells, and is so risky it can only be carried out on people with cancer.

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The two recent cases are part of the IciStem program, which is a collaborative venture of researchers and clinicians dedicated to HIV eradication, according to a release from IciStem. To end the global HIV epidemic, it is extremely important that there be 100 percent universal access to these important treatments - not just to those who can afford their expensive retail prices.

So no, the news of the London patient's HIV remission may not represent a true cure for HIV yet, but it likely does inch us one step closer to that all-important goal. This renders them resistant to most HIV infection. After receiving treatment, both patients were eventually taken off their anti-retroviral medications and subsequent examination showed that that even with very sensitive blood tests, the team could not detect HIV in their blood. The patient must then be monitored to insure that his or her HIV does not come roaring back.

Also, while the London patient's cancer treatment was less intense, with just chemotherapy and the stem cell transplant, it was still toxic and is not a course of treatment that otherwise healthy people living with HIV infection should embark upon.

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Top panel illustrates the treatment course for the London patient.

CCR5 receptor is most commonly used by the HIV-1 virus to enter cells.

While a second patient experiencing HIV viral remission with a slightly less toxic cancer treatment is certainly encouraging progress, an 18-month remission does not equal a cure.

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