A Cure for HIV?
German researchers at Charite-University Medicine Berlin have reported curing a man of HIV. In 2007, doctors treated the patient for acute myeloid leukemia by wiping out his own immune system with high-dose chemo, radiation, and a stem-cell transplant. At this time, he ceased taking anti-HIV medication. His leukemia relapsed in 2008 and he underwent a second round of these treatments, including more stem-cells from the same donor. Today, the patient shows no signs of leukemia or HIV replication.
However, his case was unique and does not indicate a universal cure: The donor had a highly rare HIV-resistant inherited gene mutation; wiping out an immune system is hazardous and only ideal for those in good health; and stem cell transplants would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars for most people. While this is promising and exciting research, pragmatically, AIDS researchers do not see it impacting treatment today.
The World Health Organization estimates that 33.4 million people have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.