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In a rare case, a woman with HIV has ‘cleared’ the virus without treatment

In a rare case, a woman with HIV has 'cleared' the virus without treatment

A rare case of a lady from Argentina claims to cure herself of HIV without the use of drugs or treatment. Thereby, making her the world’s second documented example of this kind.

Doctors believe that in this rare case of HIV, the infection was eradicated by the patient’s immune system on its own.

According to the Archives of Internal Medicine, tests on more than a billion of her cells revealed no evidence of the illness.

Rare case of Eliminating HIV

Experts believe that if this process could harness, it could be useful to eradicate or effectively cure HIV.

The findings add to the growing body of evidence that some people are born with an inherent resistance to HIV.

Some people have genes that protect them from infection.

Others, such as “the Esperanza patient,” who chooses to remain nameless, appear to contract the illness. But then get rid of it.

However, the majority of HIV patients require antiretroviral medication for the rest of their lives (ART).

If patients stop taking these medications, the dormant virus can resurface and cause complications.

However, there have been reports in recent years of “elite controllers”. They can suppress the virus without the need for HIV medicines.

After obtaining donor stem-cell treatment for a malignancy he also had, Adam Castillejo of London was able to quit taking his daily HIV medicines.

During his cancer treatment, his HIV-infected cells wiped out and replaced.

His donor was also fortunate in that he was one of the 1% of people born with genes. Genes that prevent HIV from entering and infecting cells.

However, it is uncertain how long Mr. Castillejo will benefit from this edge.

‘Sterilizing cure’

However, the Esperanza patient has been HIV-free for more than eight years.

Loreen Willenberg of San Francisco likewise looks to be HIV-free thanks to her immune system.

This raises the possibility of a “sterilizing cure” for other sufferers.

“There may be an actionable path to a sterilizing cure for people who are not able to do this on their own,” said lead investigator Dr. Xu Yu of the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard.

“We are now looking toward the possibility of inducing this kind of immunity in persons on ART, through vaccination, with the goal of educating their immune systems to be able to control the virus without ART.”

‘Abortive infection’

It was almost impossible to say whether someone was truly free of HIV. But Prof John Frater of the University of Oxford told BBC News that the scientists had done “as much as could be asked of them with current technology” to show it.

“The key question is whether this patient has actually cured themselves or, alternatively, had some form of abortive infection, which tried to get going but the embers were snuffed out early,” he said.

“Her immune system clearly shows a memory of having been infected. So there seems to be no question that she was.

“Regardless, there may be similar patients out there, offering much to learn in the search for an HIV cure.”

Prof Sarah Fidler, an expert in HIV medicine at Imperial College London, said the research would contribute to the development of immunological treatments now in the works.

However, Dr. Andrew Freedman of Cardiff University Medical School believes that present HIV medications are incredibly effective. Also, future treatments are crucial, extending global access to life-changing ART is a top priority.