The fourth-largest case of the HIV virus “Healing” from an infection after more than 30 years is a 66-year-old guy of US heritage. According to the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California, which treated the patient, the guy has been in remission for more than 17 months after stopping antiretroviral therapy. Remission is a condition in which the intensity of a disease’s symptoms progressively lessens (which reduces and contains the replication of the virus). Doctors are looking into the factor that made the recovery possible because the infection still has no known treatment.
The most plausible explanation, according to medical professionals, is that the patient’s bone marrow transplantation with stem cells from a donor who is naturally resistant to HIV and able to prevent the infection due to a unique genetic mutation was what led to the patient’s HIV remission. In fact, the individual exhibited no signs of the virus in his blood following surgery. Following the transplant, every test produced the same result: it appears that his body is no longer able to generate HIV.
Bone marrow transplants are not the answer and will not significantly alter the situation, despite the reassuring words of Jana Dickter, an infectious disease specialist at the City of Hope National Medical Center (“We were thrilled to let him know that his HIV is in remission and that he no longer needs treatment”). It is “a complicated operation with possibly serious adverse effects,” in actuality. So, even while the researchers are attempting to determine how (and if) to take advantage of the genetic trait of the 66-year-old bone marrow donor, who as we have indicated has demonstrated a natural immunity to the virus, it is not really a viable alternative for most people living with this condition.
The HIV recovery story we’ve told you about is not the first. There were three previous patients before the 66-year-old American who had been deemed “cured” by medical professionals. The first example involves Timothy Ray Brown, popularly known as the Berlin patient, who had an incident in 2011.
After reading such news, it only becomes sensitive to raise one question: why is there still no HIV vaccine or cure? Despite years of research, a virus of this sort is challenging for scientists to combat due to its unique properties. In fact, this can remain undetected in the host cell for a very long period.