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A Sixth Person Appears To Be Effectively Cured Of HIV

The "Geneva patient" is the latest person with HIV to be declared in long-term remission.

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Tom Hale

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Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist

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Scanning electromicrograph of an HIV-infected H9 T cell by the NIAID

The battle against HIV is far from over, but hope is stronger than ever. 

Image credit: NIAID

Doctors have claimed yet another person with HIV appears to be in long-term remission, meaning they are effectively “cured” of the dreadful virus. Known as the “Geneva Patient,” the man is the sixth person with HIV to be declared in long-term remission. 

The news of the sixth patient was announced by the Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève (HUG) and the Institut Pasteur ahead of the International AIDS Conference in Brisbane, Australia, where they will officially present their findings on July 24. 

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In the five previous cases of people who have been effectively “cured” of HIV infection following a bone marrow transplant, their transplant contained stem cells from a donor with a mutation of the CCR5 gene, which is known to block HIV from entering the body's cells.

This sixth patient is comparable to those cases, but with one key difference: they received a bone marrow transplant from a donor who did not carry the CCR5 mutation. 

“The duration of undetectability after the interruption of treatment – 20 months – has no precedent in people who have received a marrow transplant in the absence of the CCR5 mutation,” Dr Alexandra Calmy, HIV/AIDS Unit Director at the Geneva University Hospitals, and Dr Asier Sáez-Cirión, Head of the Viral Reservoirs and Immune Control Unit at the Institut Pasteur, said in a statement.

The individual had been living with HIV since the early 1990s and received antiretroviral therapy from the outset. In 2018, he underwent a stem cell transplant to treat an especially aggressive form of leukemia. Following the transplant, tests showed his blood cells had been entirely replaced by the donor's cells and the number of HIV-infected cells had significantly dropped. 

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They slowly weaned him off the antiretroviral drugs and permanently discontinued the treatment in November 2021. Over 20 months after stopping the therapy, no signs of the virus or immune responses against the virus could be found in the individual's body. 

He was effectively cured of the disease. 

“What has happened to me is wonderful and magical – we can now focus on the future,” the Geneva patient said in a separate statement.

The researchers stressed that this remarkable case does not necessarily mean that a widespread cure for HIV is around the corner. For now, cases of long-term HIV remission are exceptional. Nevertheless, the unique situation of the Geneva patient has offered some invaluable insights into new possible ways to treat HIV

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“Although this protocol is not applicable on a large scale due to its aggressiveness, this new case provides unexpected insights on mechanisms of eliminating and controlling viral reservoirs, which will play a key role in devising curative HIV treatments,” continued Sáez-Cirión.

“Through this unique situation, we are exploring new avenues in the hope that HIV remission or even cure will one day no longer be a one-off occurrence,” added Calmy.


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