A HIV-positive man in remission may be the first patient effectively cured of the illness without needing a bone marrow transplant, researchers said on Tuesday, hinting at a potential breakthrough.
Previously, the bone marrow transplant procedure has held out as the potential cure, when two men — known as the “Berlin” and “London” patients — appear to have been cured of the disease after undergoing high-risk stem cell bone marrow transplants to treat cancer.
Now an international team of researchers believe they may have a third patient who no longer shows sign of infection after undergoing a different medicine regimen.
AFP said Ricardo Diaz, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Sao Paulo, revealed that the new patient could be considered to be free of the disease.
The patient is a 34-year-old Brazilian who has not been named, and was diagnosed with HIV in 2012.
While participating in the study, he was given several potent antiviral drugs, including maraviroc and dolutegravir, to test their effect in ridding him of the HIV virus.
The researchers say the 34 year old has now gone more than 57 weeks with no HIV treatment all the while continuing to test negative for HIV antibodies.
Diaz’s findings were released as part of the first-ever all-virtual International AIDS Conference, held online this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The significance for me is that we had a patient that was on treatment and he is now controlling the virus without treatment,” Diaz told AFP.
Diaz said his team’s treatment method needs further research, but is still a more ethical avenue for gravely ill HIV sufferers than the bone-marrow transplant route.