What you need to know:
- The Geneva Patient, currently in his 50s, underwent a bone marrow transplant in 2018 and has been free of HIV ever since.
- In November 2021, doctors discontinued the patient’s treatment therapy after repeated tests detected zero virus in his bloodstream, which implied that the patient was in a long-term remission stage.
HIV/Aids cure could be in the offing as yet another patient is declared “effectively cured” of the virus in a major breakthrough.
The Swiss national referred to as ‘The Geneva Patient’ could be the sixth patient who has been “effectively cured” of HIV/Aids, according to experts based at Institut Pasteur.
All the other five people are located in Western countries, among them Germany (Berlin and Dusseldorf), the United States (New York and Carlifonia) and the United Kingdom’s London.
The Geneva Patient, currently in his 50s, underwent a bone marrow transplant in 2018 and has been free of HIV ever since.
In November 2021, doctors discontinued the patient’s treatment therapy after repeated tests detected zero virus in his bloodstream, which implied that the patient was in a long-term remission stage.
Ordinarily, medics wait at least five years, beginning the point where the treatment regimen was stopped, before declaring a patient officially cured.
In the event sufficient time goes by without any levels of HIV being detected, the patient could ultimately join the crew of the rarefied five people considered either “possibly” or “definitely” cured of the virus.
All the six individuals were HIV infected by the time they underwent bone marrow transplantation also known as stem cell transplant.
As opposed to his five peers, the bone marrow donor to the Geneva Patient did not have CCR5 delta 32.
This is a rare mutation of the genes that is known to not only make cells HIV resistant naturally, but also block the virus from penetrating the immune system of a person.
Bone marrow are soft, spongy tissues found inside bones where blood cells are made and stored in the body.
Upon maturing, cells move into the bloodstream from the bone marrow.
Bone marrow transplant, as explained by experts, entails replacing a patient’s bone marrow which is unable to produce sufficient healthy cells, by infusing into a patient’s body, healthy stem cells capable of forming blood.
Patients with immune deficiencies and certain cancer types are among those who undergo stem cell transplant.
Infections, organ damage, cataracts and infertility among numerous risks associated with the treatment procedure, experts explain.
The Geneva Patient started antiretroviral therapy, ART, in the 1990s, which involves taking a daily HIV treatment combination.
It was not until 2018 when being treated for leukemia that he underwent a bone marrow transplant and chemotherapy.
After the transplant, medics discovered a significant drop in the HIV infected cells of the patient and that his blood cells had been replaced fully by the donor’s blood cells.
Presently, the Food and Drug Administration has approved eight medications in the ART therapy even as scientists rack their brains in search of a universal HIV cure.
The drugs are taken as a combination in order to reinforce their potency as well as decrease the possibility of virus resistance to the treatments, as explained by Pan American Health Organization.
As of late 2022, people living with HIV were 39 million while those who had succumbed to the illness stood at 630,000, according to the World Health Organization.
Sex, pregnancy, body fluids from an infected person such as vaginal and semen fluids, blood, and breast milk, are ways through which HIV is transmitted.
The virus could develop to AIDs (Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) if left untreated.
According to experts, the latest medical breakthrough provides “unprecedented insights.”
They, however, advise against applying the method on a large scale citing what they term as “its aggressiveness.”
“These one-of-a-kind developments provide us with new channels of experimenting even as we hold onto hope that one day HIV cure or remission will not be just a one-off happening,” stated the Geneva University Hospitals HIV/AIDS Unit Director, Dr Alexandra Calmy.