A 66-year-old man is now HIV and cancer-free after undergoing a rare stem cell transplant.
The man, who wished to remain anonymous, received treatment at City of Hope in Los Angeles and became the fourth person in the world to ever to go into long-term remission of HIV without antiretroviral therapy.
The facility announced the news in a press release, noting that the patient is the oldest patient to be cured of HIV.
The 66-year-old was diagnosed with HIV back in 1988 and had been taking medication for it daily for over 30 years. He later developed leukemia and sought care at the City of Hope.
In the press release, Jana K. Dickter, associate clinical professor at City of Hope, said:
“We were thrilled to let him know that his HIV is in remission and he no longer needs to take antiretroviral therapy that he had been on for over 30 years. He saw many of his friends die from AIDS in the early days of the disease and faced so much stigma when he was diagnosed with HIV in 1988. But now, he can celebrate this medical milestone.”
For treatment, the man received a stem cell transplant in 2019. The treatment was for acute myelogenous leukemia (cancer of the blood and bone marrow). It ended up curing his HIV as well because the stem cell donor carried a rare genetic mutation that prevents HIV from replicating in the body.
Since receiving the transplant back in 2019, the doctors have been unable to find any evidence of HIV replicating in his body and he’s officially been in remission for 17 months!
The patient said in the press release:
“When I was diagnosed with HIV in 1988, like many others, I thought it was a death sentence. I never thought I would live to see the day that I no longer have HIV … I am beyond grateful.”
While the treatment is certainly an incredible milestone, it’s not yet feasible as a widespread cure. The stem cell transplant requires a donor with a rare mutation. According to the press release, the donors make up just 1-2% of the general population.
Hopefully the research and treatment can be expanded upon and more people can be cured of HIV, cancer, and more!