Stem cell transplant can cure HIV infection: Good news

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Representational Image
Representational Image

New Delhi : There is good news in the field of medical science. A new successful case of HIV treatment has been noticed lately. An HIV positive man in London has becomes the second person ever to be 'cured' of the virus after a stem cell transplant.

A study reveals that the unidentified patient has been free of the virus for 18 months without viral-suppressing treatment after a stem cell transplant to treat his cancer. Timothy Ray Brown from US became the only other person to have survived the life-threatening technique, and come out of HIV puzzle. He was treated in Germany 12 years ago.

Every other attempt in the intervening years has been unsuccessful, many with devastating, deadly outcomes.

Experts say that they have achieved a milestone in the fight against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, but warned that it does not change reality much for the 37 million people living with HIV. 

Besides HIV infection, the London patient was in advanced stage of lymphoma. And, for him a life-threatening and complex stem cell transplant was a last attempt to survive.

Stem cell transplants are harsh procedures which start with radiation or chemotherapy to damage the body's existing immune system and make room for a new one. There are complications too. The London patient had a less punishing form of chemotherapy to get ready for the transplant, didn't have radiation and had only a mild reaction to the transplant.

The transplant changed his immune system, giving him the donor's mutation and HIV resistance.

The patient stopped taking HIV drugs to see if the virus would come back.

Usually, HIV patients expect to stay on daily pills for life to suppress the virus. When drugs are stopped, the virus comes back, usually in two to three weeks.

But that didn't happen with the London patient. There is still no trace of the virus after 18 months off the drugs.

Isn’t it great!