An HIV positive man in London is the second person ever to be declared in remission from the virus, a new study reveals.
The unidentified patient has been free of the virus for 18 months without viral-suppressing treatment after a stem cell transplant to treat his cancer.
The only other person to have survived the life-threatening technique, and come out of it HIV-free, was so-called ‘Berlin patient’ Timothy Ray Brown, a US man treated in Germany 12 years ago.
Every other attempt in the intervening years has been unsuccessful, many with devastating, deadly consequences.
Experts hailed the news as a ‘milestone’ in the fight against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, but warned that it does not change reality much for the 37 million people living with HIV.
Aside from HIV, both men were in the advanced stages of cancer – the Berlin patient, leukemia; the London patient, Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
For them, a life-threatening and complex stem cell transplant was a last-ditch attempt to survive. For most others, a daily pill that suppresses their virus so that it is untransmittable, and allowing them to live a long and healthy life, is preferable.