'A historic event': This patient was cured from HIV after very rare treatment

In Germany, a patient suffering from HIV has allegedly been cured. This is only the third person to be cured following this special treatment.

Third patient cured from HIV
© National Cancer Institute / Unsplash
Third patient cured from HIV

After decades of struggling with the HIV virus, are we finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel? Of course, it is too early to say for sure, but this new case reignites doctors' hope: in Germany, a patient formerly infected by the HIV virus has been cured after taking part in an experimental treatment. There are only a handful of people who have been cured from HIV thanks to this treatment, as it is difficult and dangerous.

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A bone-marrow transplant

Nicknamed as the 'Dusseldorf patient', a 53-year-old man is officially in remission after years of HIV treatment. One could think his remission miraculous, but it would be unfair to the very hard work doctors and science experts have put in. These doctors have just made history in the fight against AIDS. His case is so rare that it has been reported in the Nature journal. In the article, we learn that the patient not only suffered from HIV but also from leukimia, and received a bone-marrow transplant. France Info highlights that the patient has:

CCR5 delta-32 genetic mutation, which naturally stops the virus from entering the cells. The transplant has been a great success against leukimia and the HIV virus.

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A very rare transplant

The 'Dusseldorf patient' is apparently only the third person in the world to have been cured after this type of transplant. One can wonder, if this type of treatment exists, why don't we offer it to every patient suffering from HIV?

The answer is simple, people with this type of genetic mutation are extremely rare (approximately 1% of the world's global population) and the transplant is not entirely safe: the surgery is very risky as it can lead to the patient's death. Asier Sàez-Cirion, a scientist at the French Institut Pasteur, has said:

In the end, it is incredible when all the required factors come together for this transplant to be a success, a cure for leukimia and HIV.

According to the UN, between 33,9 and 43,8 million people lived with the HIV virus in 2021. The cure for this patient, although rare, is very positive news.

This article has been translated from Gentside FR.

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Sources used:

France Info: Un troisième cas de guérison du virus du sida après une greffe de moelle osseuse

Nature: Third patient free of HIV after receiving virus-resistant cells

France24: Third patient cured of HIV after receiving stem cell cancer treatment

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