The news comes hours after the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) warned that the world is falling short of the target set to stop the HIV pandemic.
Photo: Adobe Stock
City of Hope Hospital, a clinical research center in Duarte, California, announced that it achieved remission (reduction or disappearance of signs and symptoms) of HIV in a 66-year-old man diagnosed in 1988. The results were presented at the XXIV International AIDS Conference (SIDA) in 2022. However, it is not a cure, which is still far from being achieved.
The patient lived with HIV for more than 31 years and already in his old age developed leukemia, a type of blood cancer. To treat the latter, the man received a stem cell transplant in early 2019 from a volunteer donor who had a rare genetic mutation, the homozygous CCR5 delta 32 mutation, which the hospital says makes people resistant to most strains of HIV infection.
Can see: In 2021, the global AIDS pandemic claimed lives every minute
Although the transplant was performed almost three years ago, doctors report that the patient has been in remission from the virus for more than 17 months. “Since recovering from his transplant, the City of Hope patient has shown no evidence of HIV virus replication in his body, either in blood or tissue samples. Courtesy from the institutional review board, he stopped taking HIV ART in March 2021 and was closely monitored for rebound virus.
“Because this patient was the oldest to have received a stem cell transplant [de los cuatro pacientes], lived with HIV the longest before their transplant, and received the least amount of immunosuppressive therapy, we now have evidence that if the right stem cell donor is found for patients living with HIV who develop blood cancers, we can use newer, less intensive regimen options to attempt to achieve double remission. This may open up entirely new opportunities for elderly patients living with HIV and blood cancers,” added Jana K. Dickter, Associate Clinical Professor at City of Hope.
Can see: Droughts and land degradation: threats to food security in Africa
This patient is the fourth in the world to achieve HIV remission, despite being the oldest of them all. The only thing known about the patient, who has chosen to remain anonymous, is a statement quoted by the hospital: “When I was diagnosed with HIV in 1988, like many others, I thought it was a death sentence. I never thought I would live to see the day when I was HIV free.
According to the British media BBC, Dr Dickter acknowledged at the conference that the procedure which achieved this remission is complex and has significant potential side effects: “Therefore, it is not really an appropriate option for most people living with hiv. Dr Sharon Lewin, president-elect of the International AIDS Society, added that while these cases provide “continuing hope”, the cure remains the holy grail of HIV research.
Can see: New WHO recommendations to halt the progression of monkeypox
The news comes hours after the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) warned that the world is falling short of the target set to stop the HIV pandemic. The number of new infections worldwide fell by only 3.6% between 2020 and 2021, the smallest annual decline in the number of new HIV infections since 2016. In 2021 alone, the AIDS pandemic caused on average one life per minute, resulting in 650,000 cases of AIDS. deaths