What if you woke up one day to find that someone had been cured of HIV?
What if we told you that day had already come?
Last fall, newspapers around the world featured headlines about the case of a 42-year-old, HIV-positive man who was living in Berlin. Or, at least, he used to be HIV positive. He also had leukemia -- before a risky stem cell transplant not only treated the leukemia, but also made the man the first (and thus far only) person ever to be cured of his HIV infection.
In our latest edition of This Month in HIV, we'll hear never-before-discussed details on how the "Berlin patient" became the first person to be cured of HIV. He's had no trace of HIV in his blood for more than two years now, ever since he received stem cells from a donor who was effectively immune to HIV due to a genetic mutation. Scientists have even done biopsies of the man's brain, intestines, liver, lymph nodes and bone marrow -- basically every part of the body that can be biopsied -- and no HIV was found.
Our guide through this remarkable story is Jeffrey Laurence, M.D., the chief scientist at amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, and one of the most prominent HIV physician/researchers in the United States. Dr. Laurence talks us through the details and lays out the steps we need to take before we can succeed in our relentless search to cure HIV not just in one man, but in all HIV-positive people.
Some highlights from the interview:
- Although scientists in the U.S. have wanted to try this same procedure for years, it is proving to be extremely difficult because of the way the country's health care is funded.
- One out of every 70 Americans of European descent and one out of every 25 Scandinavians have a mutation that makes them immune to most forms of HIV. African Americans and Asians are unlikely to have this mutation.
- There is no evidence to explain why a small percentage of people remain uninfected with HIV even though they've been repeatedly exposed to the virus. Dr. Laurence believes it is probably due to a series of different mutations, differences in immune system function, or both.
Click here to read or listen to this fascinating interview!