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It's 'too early to say' London HIV patient is 'cured'

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on March 6, 2019 - Duration: 01:19s

It's 'too early to say' London HIV patient is 'cured'

Ravindra Gupta, a professor and HIV biologist who co-led a team of doctors treating an HIV-positive man in Britain that has become the second known adult to be cleared of the AIDS virus, cautions 'it's too early to say he's cured.'

Rough cut (no reporter narration).

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It's 'too early to say' London HIV patient is 'cured'

(ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION) An HIV-positive man in Britain has become the second known adult worldwide to be cleared of the AIDS virus after he received a bone marrow transplant from an HIV-resistant donor, his doctors said Tuesday (March 5).

Almost three years after he received bone marrow stem cells from a donor with a rare genetic mutation that resists HIV infection - and more than 18 months after he came off antiretroviral drugs - highly sensitive tests still show no trace of the man's previous HIV infection.

"We're presenting the second example of sustained remission from HIV in a case where an individual has been transplanted with cells that are resistant to HIV and for the purposes of treating the cancer, termed an allergenic stem cell transplant," Ravindra Gupta, a professor and HIV biologist who co-led a team of doctors treating the man, told Reuters at the CROI conference in Seattle.

AIDS experts said the case is a proof of the concept that scientists will one day be able to end AIDS, and marks a "critical moment" in the search for an HIV cure, but does not mean that cure has already been found.

Gupta described his patient as "functionally cured" and "in remission", but cautioned: "It's too early to say he's cured." The man is being called "the London patient", in part because his case is similar to the first known case of a functional cure of HIV - in an American man, Timothy Brown, who became known as the Berlin patient when he underwent similar treatment in Germany in 2007 which also cleared his HIV.

Brown, who had been living in Berlin, has since moved to the United States and, according to HIV experts, is still HIV-free.

Some 37 million people worldwide are currently infected with HIV and the AIDS pandemic has killed about 35 million people worldwide since it began in the 1980s.

Scientific research into the complex virus has in recent years led to the development of drug combinations that can keep it at bay in most patients.

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