HIV patient in remission raises hopes for future AIDS cure

A Brazilian man thought to be the first case of an HIV patient going into remission following pharmaceutical treatment raises hopes for future AIDS cure. 

The man dubbed the “Sao Paolo Patient”, currently in his mid-30s, was treated with an intense cocktail of AIDS medicines, including antiretroviral therapy(ART), Daily Mail reports. His special treatment was also supplemented with additional antiretrovirals, plus a drug called nicotinamide, a form of vitamin B3.

Moreover, the outlet reveals that there are two other cases of people believed to have been cured of HIV. However, both of them underwent extremely high-risk bone marrow transplants.

The Brazilian patient, whose name is not released, was diagnosed with HIV in 2012. He was on this exclusive course of treatment for 48 weeks. A little over a year later, the man’s HIV tests turned out to be negative.

Dr. Ricardo Diaz of the University of Sao Paulo, one of the leaders of the study, shared the promising outcome with The Telegraph:

“We can’t search the entire body, but by the best evidence, we do not have infected cells.”

Dr. Diaz: “I think it’s very promising. This patient might be cured.”

However, the professor admits it will take more time and testing to evaluate whether the patient is entirely cured.

Additionally, Andrea Savarino, a doctor at Italy’s Institute of Health, another of the trials’ co-leaders, told the UK charity NAM AIDSmap, that the case is “extremely interesting”. He added:

“I really hope that it may boost further research into an HIV cure. The result is highly likely not to be reproducible. This a very first (preliminary) experiment, and I wouldn’t foresee beyond that.”

The experts alert that, unfortunately, four other participants in the trial treated with the same special drug cocktail saw no positive effects.

This case might be the first “solely drug-induced AIDS cure”.

Dr. Jonathan Stoye, head of the Retrovirus-Host Interactions Laboratory at the Francis Crick Institute, said:

“This report describes a man from Brazil who seemingly is free of HIV-1 following treatment with multiple antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) in combination with Vitamin B3. If true, this would be the first solely drug-induced AIDS cure. However, previous studies of ARV intensification have not suggested a route to a cure.”

Despite being hopeful for the possibility of finding AIDS cure, Dr. Stoye insists:

“Altogether, this is a remarkable claim, but exceedingly frustrating given the lack of detail about the virological status of the “Sao Paulo Patient” or a plausible model for effect of vitamin B3. I am not convinced.”

Two other cases have been raising hopes for AIDS cure in recent years.

Although they were described by HIV doctors as “functionally cured”, the patients were treated with highly risky and complex bone marrow transplants.

At first, the “functionally cured” men remained anonymous, but one of them decided to reveal his identity.

Previously knows as the “London Patient”, Adam Castillejo, 40, chose to become an “ambassador of hope”. He was struggling with his critical condition for nearly two decades.

The Venezuela-born man was diagnosed with blood cancer in 2012, having already lived with HIV since 2003. The bone marrow transplant from a donor with HIV-resistant genes was his last hope for surviving cancer. These special genes could wipe out his cancer and virus in one fell swoop.

Image credits: NYTNS

Through the years, the disease severely affected Mr. Castillejo’s mental health, having him considering ending his own life. Luckily, he was stronger than his condition and in 2016 he underwent the exclusive procedure, meaning he was finally cleared of both cancer and HIV.

In an interview with the New York Times, Mr. Castillejo said:

“This is a unique position to be in, a unique and very humbling position. I want to be an ambassador of hope. I don’t want people to think, “Oh, you’ve been chosen,” he said. No, it just happened. I was in the right place, probably at the right time, when it happened.”

There is only one other person, who has survived the life-threatening treatment coming out of it HIV-free. He was called the “Berlin Patient” and was cured in Germany in 2008. His identity was eventually revealed – Timothy Ray Brown from the U.S.

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