Second Man Free of Deadly HIV Virus; Brings new hope to all affected

The second man [not pictured]  joins Timothy Brown, 52, in staying HIV positive for over a year. This brings new hope for HIV positive people. (Photo by Peter Rigaud)

The second man [not pictured] joins Timothy Brown, 52, in staying HIV positive for over a year. This brings new hope for HIV positive people. (Photo by Peter Rigaud)

Hannah Smith

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The second man in the world is currently free of the once contracted human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV virus.

“‘There is no virus there that we can measure. We can’t detect anything,’ said Ravindra Gupta, a professor and HIV biologist who co-led a team of doctors treating the [now cured] man.” reported Business Insider.

An HIV cure has eluded researchers for decades since the epidemic first started in 1981. Currently the standard treatment for HIV or AIDS according to the CDC is ART, antiretroviral therapy, a combination of multiple HIV medicines used to keep the amount of virus in your bloodstream and bodily fluids virtually undetectable allowing many, but not all, patients to live a relatively normal life.

However, in 2007 the first man was functionally cured of HIV, Timothy Brown, 52, or the Berlin Patient, after receiving a bone marrow transplant from a donor with a rare HIV resistant mutation, but to treat his cancer rather than his HIV virus.

In a similar fashion the “London Patient”, dubbed after Brown, but unwilling to be named at this time, was treated with a bone marrow transplant containing the same mutation, but again for his cancer. The “Londan Patient” quit taking his ART medication in Sept. of 2017 and became the second adult to ever remain HIV free for over a year.

“I feel a sense of responsibility to help the doctors understand how it happened so they can develop the science,” the “Londan Patent”  told The New York Times in an email.

It is important to understand that while these men are in remission they are not out of the woods because of Doctors inability to consistently reproduce these results. In fact, many scientists refuse to publicly name it a “cure” instead referring to the situation as “long-term remission”.  

“Once it became clear that Mr. Brown was cured, scientists set out to duplicate his result with other cancer patients infected with H.I.V. In case after case, the virus came roaring back, often around nine months after the patients stopped taking antiretroviral drugs, or else the patients died of cancer,” explained Apoorva Mandavilli, New York Times reporter.

Having seen a duplication of the results after 12 years brings hope to many HIV positive patients, but the transplant is not an easy or possible cure for the majority of HIV positive people.  

“This will inspire people that cure is not a dream,” said Dr. Annemarie Wensing, a virologist at the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands. “It’s reachable.”

The fight continues for both the patients and the researchers battling HIV. Many different researchers are taking different approaches hoping to find a mass cure for the millions of people affected by this deadly virus.

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