The existence of a second patient who was spontaneously cured of HIV infection has been confirmed, according to an article published in The Lancet HIV (read HERE). The first was Timothy Brown, the “Berlin patient,” and so the latest is known as the “London patient.” However, a third patient could be added to them, the “Dusseldorf patient,” who has been virus-free for 14 months without antiretroviral treatment.

HIV-positive cured

London patient and Berlin Patient treatments by the same Institute

The Lancet HIV article continues explaining the program which obtaining such results and his limitations.  “Both patients are part of the IciStem programme. A collaborative European project, IciStem includes a cohort of patients with hematological malignant disease who have received or might receive allogeneic stem-cell transplantation and has identified 22 000 potential donors who are homozygous for CCR5 Δ32. So far, 39 patients registered to IciStem have received transplants, and the London and Düsseldorf patients are the only two possible examples of HIV-positive cured reported so far, with undetectable virus maintained during a substantial period of closely monitored analytical treatment interruption.”

The article confirms, what is known, HIV-AIDS still being an incurable disease.

HIV-positive curedThe authors concluded, “Taken together, the few cases of putative cures for HIV demonstrate that treatment of last-resort—stem cell transplantation—that carries its own substantial risks and high mortality, can, in exceptional circumstances for patients who would otherwise die, lead to long-term remission of HIV. This intervention, however, is not scalable for people living with HIV, can only be attempted in people with HIV and hematological malignant disease as a last resort, and rarely leads to long-term remission of HIV. But there is undoubtedly a lot to learn from the similarities between the cases and further investigation of stem-cell transplantation in people living with HIV. Understanding the aspects of the patients, the conditioning regimens, and the transplants that are needed to effect a virus eradication, and in what cases and from what reservoir virus returns. If long-term remission is not achieved might help inform the search for cure strategies, than could be deployed more widely.”

Who knows when the next HIV-positive cured will arrive?

The message for policymakers, funders, media, and the public is clear—HIV is not a curable disease – for anyone but a vanishingly small number of people in exceptional circumstances. The search for a scalable cure continues and should be well funded, but while the search continues, investment in proven treatment and prevention measures is more important than ever. Who knows when the next cure case will arrive?