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Yes, HIV infection can be cured. Three people living with HIV has been cured so far. What worked in all of these cases is haematopoietic stem cell transplantation, which is used for the treatment of severe blood cancers. Earlier, two HIV patients were cured with this medical intervention. The third case was reported this week in Nature Medicine. It was identified by an international group of physicians and researchers from Germany, the Netherlands, France, Spain, and the United States.
It was also the first time the successful healing process of the HIV patient was characterized in great detail virologically and immunologically over a time span of 10 years, the investigators said.
A 53-year-old man from D sseldorf, Germany is identified as the third person in the world to be completely cured of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). He was treated at the University Hospital D sseldorf for his HIV infection and received a stem cell transplant due to a blood cancer.
The first two HIV patients who were cured in the past were named "Berlin" and "London." Similar to these first two cases, the D sseldorf patient received stem cells from a healthy donor. The donor's genome contains a mutation in the gene for the HIV-1 co-receptor CCR5, which makes it impossible for most human immunodeficiency viruses to enter human CD4+ T-lymphocytes, their major target cells, said a Science Daily report.
After the stem cell transplantation, the patient was closely monitored virologically and immunologically for almost 10 years. The researchers analysed his blood and tissue samples using a variety of sensitive techniques shortly after the transplantation and during the entire study period, but no replicating virus or antibodies or reactive immune cells against HIV were detected.
The patient discontinued receiving antiviral therapy against HIV more than four years ago. Ten years after stem cell transplantation and four years after the end of anti-HIV therapy, the D sseldorf patient was declared cured by the international research group.
While these three cases showed that HIV can in principle be cured, the researchers didn't mention if this medical intervention can also be applied in those living with HIV who do not have a blood cancer and for whom stem cell transplantation is not an option.
However, the researchers noted that the results of this study would be very helpful in further research into a cure for HIV for other people living with HIV.
Previously, HIV Infection was considered incurable. This is because the virus "sleeps" in the genome of infected cells for long periods of time, making it invisible and inaccessible to both the immune system and antiviral drugs, the researchers explained, as quoted by Science Daily.
This successful cure of HIV infection after stem cell transplantation gives new hope to people living with the virus around the world.