Breakthrough! New York Patient Become First Woman To Be Cured Of HIV Following Stem Cell Transplant
The development was announced on Tuesday at a ‘Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections’, which held virtually.
She is the fourth person to ever be cured of HIV – the previous three are all men – and experts have found two cases of women who somehow beat the virus naturally.
According to NBC news, the patient, described as a person of “mixed race”, received treatment at New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center in the US.
She was said to have been diagnosed with HIV in 2013, while she was confirmed to have leukemia in 2017.
According to the publication;
The procedure used to treat the New York patient, known as a haplo-cord transplant, was developed by the Weill Cornell team to expand cancer treatment options for people with blood malignancies who lack HLA-identical donors.
In order to perform this treatment, doctors first found a donor who has a rare mutation that makes them resistant to the virus.
Doctors then perform a ‘haploidentical cord transplantation‘ which uses umbilical cord blood and bone marrow from the donor.
The cord blood helps fight blood based cancers – like the leukemia the woman was suffering from, while the bone marrow provides stem cells to the body.
Then, the patient later receives a larger graft of adult stem cells. The adult stem cells flourish rapidly, but over time they are entirely replaced by cord blood cells.
Although the researchers say they are still monitoring the recovery process, the woman has not been diagnosed with HIV in blood tests over the past 14 months.
Her treatment becomes significant considering that women constitute a higher percentage of HIV cases reported globally.
According to the statistics released by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in 2021, “53% of all people living with HIV were women and girls”.
Because this stem cell treatment can often result in death for the patient, experts will not use it on a health person who can manage their HIV through normal methods.
Instead, they focus this treatment of people in the latter stages of a cancer diagnosis who are likely to die anyways unless a major medical intervention is made.
Researchers say that there are up to 50 patients who could receive the procedure every year, out of the over one million Americans battling HIV.