Published: Sat, March 14, 2020
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

The 2nd Person Ever to Be Cured of HIV Unmasks Himself

The 2nd Person Ever to Be Cured of HIV Unmasks Himself

A man from London is the second person in the world to have been cured of HIV, doctors say.

A 40-year-old man, who was last year revealed to have been cured of HIV, has revealed his identity saying he wants to be "an ambassador of hope".

Researchers have claimed that a second patient has been cured of HIV after undergoing stem cell transplant treatment.

No longer perceived as a "death sentence", the last few years have seen an increase in conversations surrounding HIV and Aids, with the likes of artist Wolfgang Tillmans and TV personality Jonathan Van Ness speaking openly about living with the disease.

"The London patient has been in HIV-1 remission for 30 months with no detectable replication-competent virus in blood, CSF [cerebrospinal fluid], intestinal tissue, or lymphoid tissue", the researchers concluded in their findings, meaning no active virus could be detected.

According to the study authors, led by Ravindra the Gupta from the University of Cambridge, the virus disappeared completely from the patient's blood. Heretofore known as the "London Patient" because of the city where he has lived for two decades, his name is Adam Castillejo.

Later that year, he was diagnosed with advanced Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a deadly cancer.

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Even better, there's also now a third case - a patient in Düsseldorf who had a bone marrow transplant and now appears to be HIV-free, Johnston said.

A linked commentary by Dr Jennifer Zerbato and Prof Sharon Lewin of the University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital, who were not involved in the work, stressed that it is hard to define a "cure" for HIV, but noted that the absence of the active virus is, potentially, a better definition than no trace whatsoever. Today, more than 70 million people have been infected with HIV, and about 35 million have died from AIDS since the start of the pandemic.

The donor, however, carried a genetic mutation which prevents the HIV virus attaching itself to cells making his new immune system resistant to the virus. "That's one thought of how this transplant system works".

However, he was not cured by the HIV drugs alone. "This is a unique position to be in, a unique and very humbling position", Castillejo said. Although the development marks a major break-through, Castillejo underwent the process to cure his cancer and it is not a practical option for the widespread curing of HIV because of the risks involved.

The Berlin and London patients both were born with different versions of the CCR5 protein, so their successful treatment also shows that their original genetics don't matter as long as the genes are replaced with the HIV-resistant mutation, she added. "We've tested a sizeable set of sites that HIV likes to hide in and they are all pretty much negative for an active virus", Gupta told AFP.

Since it was not possible to measure proportion of cells derived from the donor's stem cells in all parts of the patient's body (i.e. measurement was not possible in some tissue cells like lymph nodes), the authors used a modelling analysis to predict the probability of cure based on two possible scenarios. "I don't want people to think: & # 39; Oh, you & # 39; were selected".

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