Science

Second HIV patient may have been ‘cured’ of infection without stem cell treatment, report claims

Scientists announced that a second HIV-positive individual no longer appears to have the virus.

A woman in Argentina, who was diagnosed with HIV in 2013, no longer has the active virus in her body anymore. The same year, her boyfriend passed away as a result of an AIDS infection. In 2019, she became pregnant and began treatment for the first time since being diagnosed. She took several medications throughout her pregnancy. When she gave birth and the baby tested negative, she ended the treatment.

Dr. Xu Yu, of the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT and Harvard, Dr. Natalia Laufer of Argentina, and others performed tests on the woman. They have tested billions of blood and tissue cells and found that although she was in fact infected with the virus, she had “no intact virus that was capable of replicating”. This is the second case where this has happened.

“A sterilizing cure for HIV has previously only been observed in two patients who received a highly toxic bone marrow transplant. Our study shows that such a cure can also be reached during natural infection — in the absence of bone marrow transplants (or any type of treatment at all),” Yu wrote in an email to CNN. “Examples of such a cure that develops naturally suggest that current efforts to find a cure for HIV infection are not elusive, and that the prospects of getting to an ‘AIDS-free generation’ may ultimately be successful.”

Yu hypothesized that “a combination of different immune mechanisms — cytotoxic T cells [were] likely involved, innate immune mechanism […] contributed” leading to her body ridding itself of the virus. Around 38 million people worldwide live with HIV, which can lead to AIDS if untreated. Last year, 690,000 people died from AIDS.

ARTICLE: RITA VOGT

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: JNJ.COM

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