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boy cured with cord blood?
May 12, 2013

i read about the boy who got the umbilical cord blood transplant. they said it's similar to the transplant timothy brown got. is this another cure? when will it be possible for other people?

Response from Dr. Young

Hi and thanks for posting.

Today's media is filled with premature claims of HIV cure- the case that you refer to comes from the US state of Minnesota. In this case, doctors are hoping that umbilical cord blood transplantation might replicate what was achieved with Timothy Brown, the Berlin Patient.

No data on whether this strategy worked or not has yet been presented- so it's far too early to say whether this is a cured person or not.

More relevant are data emerging from Europe about 14 individuals who may have been functionally cured with the very early initiation of HIV treatment, and the so-called "Mississippi baby", a young girl who appears to have eradicated HIV infection, also by very early initiation of treatment.

It's also noteworthy that many less so reputable are jumping on this bandwagon, including the infamous report from a Danish group's claim (reported in the UK rag, Telegraph) that a cure for HIV will be available in "a few months". This is an irresponsible claim and no reputable source (including me) agrees with such a timeline for the development of a widely available cure.

Overall though, the notion of HIV cure is gaining momentum- with the reports of at least two exceptional cases of apparent cure, and emerging reports of many individuals who appear to control their HIV- after the very, early initiation of treatment. Taken together (and not withstanding irresponsible self-promotion of not ready-for-primetime claims), I think that the future is bright. It will still take many years (and a lot of careful studies) to see these advances reach the majority of people living with HIV today. Expectations about the arrival of that magical day need to be carefully measured.

For now, we can celebrate just how far the state of HIV prevention, care and treatment has come in just a short period of time.

I hope that helps. BY



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