The Huffington Post broke the news this afternoon that “Doctors believe an HIV-positive man who underwent a stem cell transplant has been cured as a result of the procedure.” In fact, in a report in the medical journal Blood, scientists declared that “cure of HIV infection has been achieved.”
The medical community believes that Timothy Ray Brown, also known as the “Berlin Patient,” was cured of HIV via the stem cell transplant he underwent in 2007 while being treated for leukemia. The Huffington Post reports, “Brown’s case paves a path for constructing a permanent cure for HIV through genetically-engineered stem cells.”
The Huffington Post goes on to reference TIME magazine’s coverage of a recent study showing “that healthy individuals who take antiretrovirals, medicine commonly prescribed for treating HIV, can reduce their risk of contracting the disease by up to 73 percent.”
TIME also reported recently that Bruce Walker, an AIDS researcher at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, “published research that helps explain… genetic variations that change key proteins in the immune system. The genetic variations change about a half-dozen amino acid building blocks; those variants make cells that are infected with HIV visible to the body’s immune system and vulnerable to attack.” NPR says, “These differences help explain why some patients can be infected with HIV for decades, never get treatment and yet never progress to AIDS.” These variants were found in people of multiple ethnicities, and scientists “hope their findings will help researchers figure out how to manipulate the immune response in people who do not have the benefit of the genetic variations,” per TIME.
Looking at each of these developments individually, it would be difficult to say we will soon be able to rid the world of such a catastrophic disease, but collectively, these announcements prove that the scientific and medical communities are making huge progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS.