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Stem cell transplant cures another person of HIV

By Christopher Kirkman
|
February 25, 2023

Researchers in Germany claim a man has been cured of HIV after a stem cell transplant and chemotherapy, becoming the fifth known case.

The 53-year-old man was diagnosed with HIV in 2008 in a study published by Nature science journal.

The background

"The patient was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia about three years after being diagnosed with HIV. Remission of their cancer was achieved through an initial round of chemotherapy but was followed by a relapse shortly after," The Hill reported.

"During the patient’s treatment for their cancer, they received a stem cell transplant from a female donor with whom they matched. This transplant occurred roughly two years after their cancer diagnosis and five years after being diagnosed with HIV," it added.

Experts speak out

"It’s really cure, and not just, you know, long term remission," said Dr. Bjorn-Erik Ole Jensen, who presented details of the case in a new publication of "Nature Medicine," according to ABC News.

"This obviously positive symbol makes hope, but there's a lot of work to do," Jensen said in the report.

HIV is usually a lifelong infection. The latest case is now four years since the cure, marking a new level of progress in the fight against the illness.

The first person reportedly cured from HIV was in 2009 in Berlin. Three other cases followed starting in 2019 as research continues to develop to not only stop, but completely cure, HIV.

“When you hear about these HIV cures, it’s obviously, you know, incredible, given how challenging it’s been. But, it still remains the exception to the rule,” Director of Infectious Disease at South Shore Health Dr. Todd Ellerin told ABC News.

“I think we can get a lot of insights from this patient and from these similar cases of HIV cure. These insights give us some hints where we could go to make the strategy safe,” Dr. Bjorn-Erik Ole Jensen, senior physician at the University Hospital in Dusseldorf, added.

The findings reveal new hope for many people infected with HIV worldwide.

"There are nearly 40 million people with HIV around the world. But about 1% of the world’s population has a genetic mutation that makes them resistant to HIV," the Virginia-Pilot reported.

"All of the previous cases where HIV was cured involved stem cell treatments from donors who had that genetic mutation," it noted.

The latest person cured from HIV also continues to highlight the medical progress and offers new possibilities as doctors seek to help those in the future.