“It`s hard to know if this is a cure, only time will tell, but this is looking very promising,” said Sharon Lewin, IAS Governing Council member and Director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity at the University of Melbourne in Australia. Lewin is also Co-Chair with Mark Dybul of the IAS initiative Towards an HIV Cure.
“No-one other than Timothy Brown, the Berlin Patient, has remained aviremic off ART for 30 months. The Mississippi baby rebounded at 27 months off ART. These cases are so rare that I think we should be excited - but it will still be essential to keep monitoring the patient´s progress too.
Adam Castillejo, until now referred to as the “London Patient”, is still free of the virus more than 30 months after stopping anti-retroviral therapy and receiving a stem-cell transplant for his cancer. A follow up study on his progress appears today in Lancet HIV.
“The finding of only virus fossils is also encouraging but, in the end, the likelihood of detecting intact virus is dependent on how many samples you can test. The investigators did a great job here in thorough sampling from a large number of sites, but there is a limit to how many cells you can realistically collect.
“This case is an exciting advance, but we need to also place it in context - curing people of HIV via a bone marrow transplant is just not a viable option on any kind of scale. We need to constantly reiterate the importance of, prevention, early testing and treatment adherence as the pillars of the current global response to HIV/AIDS. And maintain the search for an HIV cure,” concluded Lewin.
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