Man cured of HIV in ‘holy grail’ moment for medical researchers: report

A 66-year-old man in California has been cured of HIV after receiving a stem cell donation for leukemia from a donor who was naturally resistant to the virus.

The patient is known as the “City of Hope” patient because he refused to be identified after he was cured, Reuters reported. The patient is the fourth known patient to be cured in this way.

The patient was diagnosed with the disease in 1988 but managed to control it with antiretroviral therapy (ART) for more than 30 years.

Sharon Lewin, president-elect of the International Aids Society, said the cure was the “holy grail” and that the story provides “continuing hope…and inspiration” for those battling the disease.

The report said scientists believe the treatment worked to cure the patient because the stem cell donor had a rare biogenetic makeup where they lacked the receptors needed to become infected with HIV.

Doctors said they found no signs of HIV in the man after he stopped taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) more than a year ago.

β€œHe saw many of his friends and loved ones get sick and eventually succumb to the disease, and he had experienced a stigma associated with having HIV,” said Jana Dickter, an infectious disease physician who treated the patient. Its success “offers potential for elderly patients to undergo this procedure and go into remission from both their blood cancers and HIV.”

A woman in Spain in her 70s, who was diagnosed at age 59, also showed promising signs that she might beat the virus after stopping antiretroviral therapy (ART) more than a decade ago.

The woman was quickly given antiretroviral drugs for nine months after becoming infected with the disease, as well as other treatments to boost her body’s immune system, The Wall Street Journal reported. Researchers found that she has been able to keep the virus under control because her body has “high levels of two types of immune cells that normally suppress the virus and likely help control viral replication.”

Steven Deeks, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco who leads research into HIV treatment, said new advances in medical technology could soon lead to cures for the disease that could be widely spread.

“There are exciting new gene editing methods emerging that could one day achieve a similar result with a shot in the arm,” he said.

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