Progress on a HIV Cure

Sophie DeWael, MVC Writer

A woman treated for HIV infection 14 months ago currently has no HIV detected in her body and shows no symptoms of the disease. Seemingly, the woman has been cured. This woman from New York is the first woman, and 3rd person overall, to undergo treatment of the disease and be cured.

This stem cell transplant method is not considered applicable for every person with HIV and is estimated only to benefit 50 Americans each year, according to one of the doctors involved in this research. The reasoning for this is that the person must already need a stem cell transplant, which is used to treat certain diseases, the most prominent one being cancer. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, expressed his caution to the overly-optimistic story being thrown around. “This person happened to have an underlying disease which required a stem cell transplant, so I don’t want people to think that now this is something that can be applied to the 36 million people who are living with HIV.”

This patient was “cured” from HIV by using the stem cells from both an infant umbilical cord and stem cells from a relative of the patient. The infant stem cells used had a resistance to HIV that is uncommon, but natural in some stem cells. The rare part of the cell makeup is the lack of a CCR5 gene which makes the infection of HIV genetically impossible.

Although this method is not a viable option to cure most HIV infections, it still makes scientists hopeful of the progression of HIV treatment research.