Blood Sample

The third person ever to be cured of HIV in an “important breakthrough” is a mixed-race woman.

As reported by the NY Times, the method used by scientists involves a stem cell transplant and could be promising for more racially diverse HIV+ people.

“The fact that she’s mixed-race, and that she’s a woman, that is really important scientifically and really important in terms of the community impact,” Dr Steven Deeks, University of California, San Francisco AIDS expert, said.

Similar to the Berlin Patient and the London Patient (who were previously cured of HIV), this woman also had leukemia; for which, she received umbilical cord blood as a treatment.

The two previous patients both underwent bone marrow transplants, while the lady instead received umbilical cord blood from a partially-matched donor. Cord blood does not need to be a close match to the patients, unlike bone marrow transplants.

She also received a blood donation from a relative to help fuel her body’s defense the transplant settle. While men apparently suffered bad side effects from the transplant, this third patient proved to respond more positively; which is believed to be due to the family blood donation.

Over 14 months after stopping her antiretroviral medication and the virus is still not present.

Weill Cornell Medicine infectious diseases expert Dr Marshall Glesby said: “The transplant from the relative is like a bridge that got her through to the point of the cord blood being able to take over.”

Professor Sharon Lewin of the International AIDS Society said that bone marrow transplants are not a “viable large-scale strategy for curing HIV”, however the case “does present a proof of concept that HIV can be cured”, aidsmap reported.