An HIV cure might be on its way as pointed out by researchers. The breakthrough came in last month when the results of a London patient were revealed after eighteen months of surgery. HIV refers to a human immune virus which eventually causes AIDS. Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a life-endangering condition, caused by HIV, damages your immune system. It negatively impacts your body’s ability to fight against infections and gradually contributes to the failure of the immune system.
The First Case
It is not the first time that the hope for an HIV cure has emerged. Ten years ago, a patient in Berlin also got lucky in 2007. Also known as the Berlin patient, Timothy Brown was considered the only cured HIV positive individual until recently. In 1995, Timothy was diagnosed as HIV positive.
In 2007, due to decreased immunity, he got another bad news. He had leukaemia and he also did not respond to chemotherapy. As a result, the doctors decided to go for a stem cell transplant. The transplant was risky on its own but Timothy did not have any other viable option.
The stars aligned for real when the doctors picked a donor who had a specific gene mutation known as homozygous CCR5 mutation. After the transplant, a complication arose and Timothy had to undergo another transplant in 2008. This time around the surgery worked. Ten years down the lane, Timothy is not only free from his cancer but also HIV.
Although the procedure had long-term success, it could not be offered as a cure to the general population of HIV victims. The reason was the high risk associated with stem cell surgery which was even more pronounced for HIV patients.
The Current Scenario
After ten whole years, the hope arose again last month. A patient in London who wants to stay anonymous underwent stem cell surgery. In March 2019 the doctors claimed that the procedure took place eighteen months ago and the patient has been free from the virus ever since. Thus, the London patient is now the second person in the world to be cured of HIV.
The president of International AIDS society Antonio Pozniak deems this case as a major breakthrough. He says that stem cell transplant can never be offered as a general treatment since it carries a lot of risks. It is, however, a milestone in the long search for a cure and will give the research in this area a new direction.
HIV/AIDS patient can sustain an average life span by taking the antiviral pill every day. The life quality, however, is not adequate and they have to deal with numerous medical issues on a daily basis. Stem cell surgery is a ray of hope for the patients who want to live a full life and is a step in the right direction.
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