A woman remains HIV-free 5 years after receiving a stem cell transplant, researchers say

  • A woman is still free of HIV 5 years after receiving a stem cell transplant, researchers say.
  • The woman continued to show undetectable viral levels months after stopping her HIV medication.
  • An undetectable HIV viral load prevents transmission, according to the CDC.

A woman who received a stem cell transplant to treat her cancer was also “cured” of HIV five years after receiving treatment, and even after stopping it. HIV drugs, say the researchers.

The woman, known as the “New York Patient,” needed a stem cell transplant after doctors diagnosed her with acute leukemia, according to a report published in the scientific journal Cell. Nearly five years after the transplant, the woman also showed “undetectable levels of HIV RNA,” according to the report.

The report comes a month after another group of investigators said a man in Germany was “cured” of HIV after receiving a bone marrow transplant 10 years earlier to treat his leukemia.

Having an undetectable HIV viral load prevents the disease from affecting a person’s health and “prevents transmission to others through sex or needle exchange, and from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding,” according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The woman decided to stop taking it. HIV medication 30 months after his transplant to see if he could possibly be “cured” of the virus, the report says. Her initial break from her medication lasted just 13 days after a spike in the COVID-19 pandemic forced her to go back on the medication, according to the researchers.

The report says that he then stopped taking the drug again 37 weeks post-transplant and found that his virus levels had remained undetectable for 18 months, “heralding remission of HIV-1 and a possible HIV-1 cure.”

“We’re calling this a possible cure rather than a definitive cure, basically waiting for a longer period of follow-up,” said Dr. Yvonne Bryson, director of the Los Angeles-Brazil AIDS Consortium at UCLA and one of the doctors who supervised the case, he said during a press conference on Wednesday, according to life sciences.

Scientists prefer to refer to HIV patients as “in long-term remission” rather than cured because it’s not yet clear how permanent long-term remission results from HIV will be, Insider previously reported. reported.

Deborah Persaud, acting director of pediatric infectious diseases, professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and co-lead author of the woman’s case report, said health line that the longer a woman can stay cancer-free, the more likely it is that her HIV viral load will not return to a point where it is dangerous.

“The longer you go without rebound, the more likely it is that the virus will not return to your blood at viral load levels detectable with our standard clinical trials,” Persaud said.

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