Two men in the US have been taken off their HIV medication after bone-marrow transplants seemingly clears the virus from their bodies.
Doctors at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, have cautiously announced that two men who were infected with HIV have been cleared of the virus for months.
One of the patients has spent nearly four months off his anti-retroviral drugs – with no signs that the infection is returning. The other man stopped taking his medication 7 weeks ago.
The two men, who have not been identified, have been living with the virus for 30 years.
Speaking to the BBC Dr Timothy Henrich said,
“We have not demonstrated cure, we’re going to need longer follow-up.
“What we can say is if the virus does stay away for a year or even two years after we stopped the treatment, that the chances of the virus rebounding are going to be extremely low.
“It’s much too early at this point to use the C-word [cure].”
He continued in saying that even the virus seemed to have disappeared it could still be hiding inside ‘brain tissue or the gastrointestinal track.”
Dr Michael Brady, Medical Director at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “It is too early to know whether HIV has been eradicated from these men’s bodies or whether it might return. However, the case suggests that what happened to Timothy Ray Brown, the Berlin Patient was perhaps not a one-off.
“A bone marrow transplant is a complex and expensive procedure, which comes with significant risks. For most people with HIV, it would be more dangerous to undergo a transplant than to continue managing the virus with daily medication. While this is by no means a workable cure, it does give researchers another sign-post in the direction of one. Until a cure is found, we urge people to continue using condoms and testing for HIV if they’ve put themselves at risk.”