H.I.V. Is Reported Cured in a Second Patient, a Milestone in the Global AIDS Epidemic

5:10 p.m.

Many of you may have heard in the news about a second person who was functionally cured of HIV. We asked Michael Luciano, our Peer Treatment Educator, for his take on this news:
“The report of a second person believed “cured” of HIV is great news and important science! However, it needs to be understood in context, since news media have repeatedly made a real mess of HIV reporting in general, and reporting on progress toward a cure in particular.

The case of “the London Patient” as he has been dubbed in order to protect his confidentiality, is great news in that it provides confirmation that “the Berlin Patient”, Timothy Ray Brown, was not a unique case.  Since others who underwent the same process were not able to go off medications and remain virus-free, we were not sure that his success wasn’t due to very unique circumstances which couldn’t be duplicated. We now have further “proof of concept” that this type of approach – the use of T-cells which lack a specific surface protein, CCR5, which HIV uses to enter the cell – is one way to approach a cure. For some.
Both of these men achieved long-term HIV remission, known as a “functional cure”, through a process of bone marrow ablation followed by replacement with marrow from a donor who naturally lacked that CCR5 protein.  Unfortunately, this is an extremely dangerous and costly procedure – many don’t survive it.  And there is a very limited pool of donors with that particular mutation. So it is not a process which could be made widely available as a cure for the more than 36 million People Living with HIV globally.  Exciting efforts to duplicate that effect using gene-editing to alter a person’s own marrow instead of replacing it get a new endorsement from this second case! But that research is still a way off from “ready for prime time”.  Even when it is, it will only work against HIV which uses the CCR5-entry point for infection. It is also important to note that millions of people living with HIV have a version of HIV that uses a different co-receptor, called CXCR4, to infect a T-cell.

I do not mean to dismiss this news – it is great news and, as my friend Timothy Ray Brown has said, he has been waiting a long time for company! I do want to temper the excitement a bit, though, since we’ll no doubt soon see it splattered across the headlines, and sensational headlines or poorly written stories have often led to disappointment and sometimes even despair when the full story is revealed.”
H.I.V. Is Reported Cured in a Second Patient, a Milestone in the Global AIDS Epidemic H.I.V. Is Reported Cured in a Second Patient, a Milestone in the Global AIDS Epidemic Reviewed by Anson Moore on January 30, 2020 Rating: 5

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