News (World)

Has a sixth person been cured of HIV?

Patient sitting on hospital bed
Photo: Shutterstock

A European man has been in remission from an HIV infection for almost two years, leading to the possibility that he will be the sixth person cured of HIV. He received a stem cell transplant to treat blood cancer.

All six patients underwent a stem cell transplant before the surprising results. The man, dubbed “The Geneva Patient” to protect his privacy, is the first to get a transplant from a donor without a rare genetic abnormality. The gene generates resistance to HIV in human immune cells targeted by the virus.

The man, in his 50s, was diagnosed with HIV in 1990 and began antiretroviral treatment in 2005. He was diagnosed with rare blood cancer in 2018 and underwent radiation and chemotherapy.

People with HIV who do not also have cancer are not eligible for stem cell treatment since it is potentially toxic. Doctors and scientists remain optimistic that the cases will lead to a better understanding of how to cure HIV, but also caution that it will likely take decades before such a treatment exists.

So far, three people have been cured of HIV. Two others, like the Geneva Patient, have been in remission and potentially cured. Others who have received stem cell transplants have gone up to 10 months without a viral rebound, but the Genva Patient has gone for 20 months.

Earlier this year, doctors announced there is “strong evidence” that the man known as the “Düsseldorf patient” has been cured.

The 53-year-old patient at Düsseldorf University Hospital in Germany received a bone marrow transplant to treat leukemia in 2013. The procedure replaced his bone marrow cells with those of a donor with a mutated gene for the CCR5 protein, which is found in white blood cells. HIV uses the protein to enter the cell but cannot attach to the mutated version.

In 2019, it was reported that the patient showed no signs of the virus after three months without HIV medication. According to research published in the journal Nature Medicine, the man has remained HIV-free since then.

Don't forget to share:

Good News is your section for queer joy! Subscribe to our newsletter to get the most positive and fun stories from the site delivered to your inbox every weekend. Send us your suggestions for uplifiting and inspiring stories.

Support vital LGBTQ+ journalism

Reader contributions help keep LGBTQ Nation free, so that queer people get the news they need, with stories that mainstream media often leaves out. Can you contribute today?

Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated

Ron DeSantis pledges to improve military recruitment by banning trans people again

Previous article

Bernie Wagenblast, the booming voice of NYC’s subway, has come out as transgender

Next article