Scientists have possibly cured female HIV patient for first time

Achieved using stem cell transplant, the breakthrough creates hope for millions of HIV patients.

A US-based research team has reported that it has possibly cured HIV in a woman for the first time. The ground-breaking development was reportedly achieved using cutting-edge stem cell transplant method. This is expected to widen the pool of people who could potentially receive similar treatment to dozens each year. Known only as the 'New York Patient' for now, the woman joins two men who have also been reportedly cured of the virus using similar treatments. The first, an American called Timothy Ray Brown was given a transplant of bone marrow with cells that contained an unusual natural variant of the CCR5 delta 32 cell-surface receptor. The second, a Londoner called Adam Castillejo was cured by a stem-cell treatment he received for a cancer he also had at the time.

“It’s important that there continues to be success along this line,” said Carl Dieffenbach, the director of the Division of AIDS at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is one of the several divisions of the National Institutes of Health that has been funding the research network responsible for the new case study. While the breakthrough has created a lot of enthusiasm, some urged for caution given the scale of the need. According to Dr Deborah Persaud, a paediatric infectious disease specialist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who chairs the NIH-funded scientific committee behind the new case study, "while we’re very excited", the stem cell treatment method is “still not a feasible strategy for all but a handful of the millions of people living with HIV”.