Dr. Timothy Henrich, an associate professor of medicine and physician scientist at University of California, San Francisco's Department of Medicine, also noted that the London patient's treatment "is not a scalable, safe or economically viable strategy to induce HIV remission".
According to the United Nations by 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression. The news is giving many living with the disease hope. "It's important because there are 36 million-odd people with HIV worldwide".
Infection with HIV nearly always led to AIDS, which in turn was nearly always fatal. He was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 and started taking drugs to control the infection in 2012. However, these medications must be taken every day, have multiple distressing side effects, and can cost thousands of dollars each month.
Gupta and his team emphasised that bone marrow transplant - a risky and painful procedure - is not a viable option for HIV treatment. He was later diagnosed with advanced Hodgkin's lymphoma, cancer of the immune system.
Before yesterday some researchers had posited a third theory: That it was the intense combination of radiation and chemotherapy ahead of the stem-cell transplant that floored the virus.
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This is a hard treatment that carries a high risk of infection and other complications, such as graft-versus-host disease, blood clots and liver disease.
A second person has experienced sustained remission from HIV-1 after ceasing treatment, reports a paper led by researchers at UCL and Imperial College London. According to the case study, the donor had a genetic mutation known as "CCR5-delta 32", which provides a resistance to HIV. In the 1% north Europeans who inherit the mutation from each parent, it offers immunity against infection. "In our study we saw a prolonged rebound time - suggesting that the transplant itself can reduce the burden of HIV - but adding cells that are resistant makes the difference to go the whole hundred yards".
Researchers caution that this specific approach is not sustainable as a standard HIV treatment.
Top panel illustrates the treatment course for the London patient.
The British patient is the second case of someone's body resisting HIV. Lower left panel shows the target for HIV, the CD4+ T-cell.
More than half a dozen US activists, including those who have lived with the illness for decades, emphasized that the development would do little to help those who are now HIV positive, because the procedure can not be administered broadly. Under normal circumstances, the CCR5 gene in question acts like a key of sorts, enabling H.I.V.to penetrate and infect humans' immune cells. Neither should anyone else. Since first receiving the treatment, he has stopped any other treatment and remained free of HIV for 18 months. However, it would be unwise to think that we are on the brink of curing HIV when, after two decades, we have still not been able to provide treatment for all.