The second person in the world to recover from HIV without treatment

A 30-year-old woman in Argentina became the second person in the world to clear herself of HIV without drugs or a bone marrow transplant.

This case was reported in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine 11/15. Scientists called the woman “patient Esperanza” – after the town where she lived. The patient was first diagnosed with HIV in 2013, then recovered without treatment.

“I’m glad I’m healthy. I don’t need drugs and live my life as usual. This is a privilege,” said patient Esperanza.

Scientists have been studying the DNA of the “Esperanza patient” since 2017 to track down the virus. After analyzing 1.2 billion cells, they found no sign of the HIV virus. They also tested 500 million placental tissue cells after the woman gave birth to an HIV-negative baby in March 2020. The results showed that the virus in the Esperanza patient’s body was “contained” in a genetic region, where they could not replicate on their own.

Experts believe the discovery offers hope for the approximately 38 million people living with HIV globally, expanding the potential for a complete cure for the virus. “This is truly a miracle from the human immune system,” said Dr. Xu Yu, an expert at the Ragon Institute in Boston.

“The next step is to figure out how it works. Why is this happening. How can we make it a treatment for everyone,” said Dr. Steven Deeks, an HIV researcher at the University of California. , San Francisco, added.

Image showing HIV virus entering T cells (immune cells). Photo: NIAID

The world’s first person to cure himself of HIV was Loreen Willenberg, a 66-year-old woman who contracted the virus in 1992. The case was reported in the journal Nature last August.

According to Dr. Yu, the self-healing mechanism of “Patient Esperanza” is similar to that of Mrs. Willenberg. Scientists use the term “functional cure,” meaning the patient recovers spontaneously, to describe this phenomenon.

To date, the world has only recorded 4 people completely recovered from HIV. In which, two patients from Germany and the UK were treated with bone marrow and stem cell transplants. Some experts say that although the results are promising, it does not represent a potential cure for every patient. Bone marrow and stem cell transplants are complicated, dangerous, and expensive, as well as having to find a suitable donor.

Thuc Linh (Follow NBC)


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