Nope, we’re not talking about Magic Johnson either.
Timothy Ray Brown, also known as the “Berlin” patient was the first man to come forward and claim that he was cured of HIV. Brown underwent a blood stem cell transplant in 2007 to treat a non-HIV related leukemia using a donor that had a natural resistant to HIV.
Who even knew that some people are resistant to HIV?
Apparently this is very true and according to Wired, “Genetic resistance to AIDS works in different ways and appears in different ethnic groups. The most powerful form of resistance, caused by a genetic defect, is limited to people with European or Central Asian heritage. An estimated 1 percent of people descended from Northern Europeans are virtually immune to AIDS infection, with Swedes the most likely to be protected. One theory suggests that the mutation developed in Scandinavia and moved southward with Viking raiders.”
Brown is not on any anti-retroviral drugs and claims that he does not have HIV; however researchers in California say that they’ve found traces of HIV in his tissue. Brown states that those remnants are dead and cannot be replicated. So does he have it or doesn’t he?
I can see where a disease as deadly as HIV would find a way to remain in the body – I mean it attacks your t-cells until it completely wipes them out. I have to wonder, are we every really cured of anything? If you’ve ever had chickenpox isn’t it true that the disease still remains your system after being “cured”. It was introduced to the body, the body along with drugs attacks it and if it were to ever try to come back the body remembers how to fight it off. Something like that, right?
There are two other men who are also claiming to be HIV-free after undergoing bone marrow transplants for their leukemia as well. It’s been two years since their leukemia operations and doctors cannot find any detectable HIV in their cells. But there’s a catch – what separates these two men from the Brown situation is that they are currently taking anti-retroviral drugs and Brown is not. So we beg to question whether they are truly HIV free or the anti-retroviral drugs are preventing a re-infection.
Although this is great news and the fight against HIV is still progressing forward for the over 1 million HIV infected people living within the U.S – a cure is far from near. The three men in question had specific gene mutations and underwent the lengthy and very expensive process of a bone marrow transplant.
“We’re not going to be doing bone marrow transplants on healthy HIV-infected patients who are doing well on antiretroviral therapy,” study researcher Dr. Daniel Kuritzkes told the Boston Globe.
Either way this is pretty exciting news if you ask me! A breakthrough in HIV treatment that could lead to a cure in the near future would be a miracle.
Highlights from 2012 AIDS Conference
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