The patient who was the oldest to ever be cured of HIV also had leukemia, but they had a stem cell transplant as well.
While the donor transplant was planned to treat the woman’s leuk leukemia, the doctors also sought a donor who was naturally resistant to the virus that causes AIDS, like Timothy Ray Brown in 2007.
The fourth patient cured through this treatment (A.D.) is known as the City of Hope patient after the U.S. facility in Duarte, California, where he was treated. That’s because A.D. doesn’t want to be identified publicly with his real name.
The patient has been HIV positive the longest, beginning diagnosis in 1988 with what he described as a “death sentence” that killed many of his friends.
He has been on antiretroviral therapy (ART) for more than 30 years to control his condition.
The data that was presented at the International Aids Society’s meeting opened the doors for patients with HIV and blood cancer to get access to treatment, even if they were older or had no family members available.
In a stellar example of science journalism, Sharon Lewin, president elect of the International AIDS Society and Professor at Harvard Medical School, says that this promising research is providing hope for those with HIV and may inspire scientists looking to develop new treatments. While the method is not currently available to the general public since there are risks associated with it, it is most likely an option for HIV patients.
Scientists think the process works because the donor individual’s stem cells have a specific, rare genetic mutation.
During his three and a half year treatment, which followed chemotherapy, the City of Hope patient stopped taking ART in March 2021. After more than a year in remission from both HIV and leukaemia, his team said he’s now been doing well for more than a year.
On Wednesday, doctors in Spain also presented details of a 59-year-old woman who is one of a rare group of what is known as “post-treatment controllers”. They can maintain undetectable viral loads after stopping ART, and also provide clues to a potential cure, said Lewin.
Just before the IAS conference starts on Friday, UNAIDS also presented data showing how the COVID-19 pandemic had derailed global efforts to tackle HIV. For example a reversal of progress in the world’s most populous region, Asia and the Pacific.