A person with HIV seems to be free of the virus after receiving a stem-cell transplant that replaced their white blood cells with HIV-resistant versions. The patient is only the second person ever reported to have been cleared of the virus using this method. But researchers warn that it is too early to say that they have been cured.
The patient — whose identity hasn’t been disclosed — was able to stop taking antiretroviral drugs, with no sign of the virus returning 18 months later. The stem-cell technique was first used a decade ago for Timothy Ray Brown, known as the ‘Berlin patient’, who is still free of the virus.
16 months after the stem-cell transplant, the patient stopped taking antiretroviral drugs, the standard treatment for HIV. In the latest follow-up, 18 months after stopping medication, there was still no sign of the virus.
This breakthrough suggests first case was not a one-off and could pave way for future treatments.