The momentous announcement on the HIV treatment begins at 14:04 of this video from the International AIDS Society.
In a medical miracle that could have massive implications going forward, two men appear to have been cured of HIV, a disease for which there is no known cure, as a result of being treated for cancer. The doctors of the two men aren’t ready to say that they have been cured, but both men stopped taking their HIV drugs for nearly four months and two months respectively, and are without symptoms or traces of HIV. The cancer treatment actually occurred years ago, but it was only recently that the patients, who prefer to remain anonymous, chose to discontinue their AIDS regimen.
This incredible finding did not happen by accident. The patients were undergoing a treatment for leukemia in which the bone marrow is destroyed through chemotherapy or radiation and replaced with donor marrow. The doctors purposefully chose replacement marrow which had an HIV resistant mutation. The successful treatment mirrors one announced earlier this year about a girl who was cured of her leukemia using altered HIV-infected cells.
“Up to week 14 for both patients, we continue to be unable to detect (HIV) DNA in their cells or virus in their blood,” said Dr. Timothy Henrich of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. “We looked very deeply this time -- much more deeply than last time.” Dr. Heinrich and his team searched in cells that HIV usually attacks and took a rectal sample from one patient. They did not search for HIV in the patients’ brains, because the risk did not seem justified.
The patients will be blood tested weekly for at least a year. Because, Dr. Heinrich noted, “We don’t even know where some of the HIV might be hiding.”
This is a momentous finding which no one can help but hope signals the beginning of the end for a disease that has ravaged large swaths of the world, and proved, so far, to be incurable.