By Eleanor Frederick, MSc, MPH
Reports from the Conference on Retrovirus and Opportunistic Infection (CROI), in Seattle, United States is of the second case of an HIV infected man “functionally cured” of HIV.
The HIV infected man from the United Kingdom was treated for lymphoma with stem cells transplanted from a donor with a rare genetic mutation which is resistant to HIV infection He has not taken his antiretroviral medication for more than eighteen months and his HIV remains undetectable.
The unidentified British patient was diagnosed with HIV in 2003. Approximately three years after receiving the stem cell transplant the British man is the second person reported to be “functionally cured” of HIV.
The first person to be “functionally cured” of HIV was Timothy Ray Brown, the “Berlin patient” was diagnosed with leukemia. He was treated with chemotherapy, radiation and stem cell transplants from an individual with a rare genetic mutation that is resistant to infection by HIV.
This continues the hope that someday there will be a vaccine for HIV and a cure for AIDS, however as the scientist continue to work there is still much work to be done. Therefore, we must continue to work with what is available which are HIV prevention tools, HIV treatment and support to help those who are infected.
Globally in 2017 there were approximately 37 million persons infected with HIV and more than 36 million deaths from AIDS related illnesses and 1.8 million new HIV infections. In the Caribbean UNAIDS reports there are approximately 260,000 persons living with HIV.
More than 21.7 million people have access to HIV treatment; however there are many individuals who either have no access to treatment or who are not taking the available treatment and so deaths from HIV related illnesses continue.