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Londoner patient had HIV removed from his body with the same method that cured Timothy Brown in 2007. Learn how the treatment works and Aids data in Brazil and worldwide

For the second time, an HIV patient got rid of the virus. A stem cell transplant removed the virus from the human body in a stable manner 12 years after the first successful application.

The episode was disclosed in an article published in the scientific journal Nature, and described as a significant advance in medicine and the search for a definitive cure for Aids. The patient, residing in London, was also diagnosed with leukemia and had stem cell transplant in the marrow from a matched donor – who also had a rare genetic mutation resistant to HIV infection.

The treatment started three years ago. For the past 18 months, antiretroviral drugs were suspended without any record of the virus returning. The procedure is the same that made Timothy Brown get rid of Aids in 2007. Brown underwent treatment with stem cells in Germany and, like the Londoner, defeated cancer and removed HIV from his body – there was no reversion of clinical symptoms up to date, 12 years later.

The International AIDS Society (IAS) celebrated the accomplishment of the University of London researchers as a new advance to find the definitive cure for the disease. “Although this is not a viable large-scale strategy for a cure, it does represent a critical moment in the search for an HIV cure,” says the IAS president, Anton Pozniak. “The hope is that this will eventually lead to a safe, cost-effective and easy strategy … using gene technology or antibody techniques,” he completes.

Aids numbers today: Brazil and worldwide

Currently, it is estimated that about 37 million people worldwide are HIV infected, and only 75% of bearers are aware of their condition, while only 60% are under treatment. From that total, 1.8 million acquired the virus in 2017.

Since the onset of the Aids pandemic, in the 1980s, 35 million people are estimated to have died from the disease. The World Health Organization says that, every year, about 1 million people die because of HIV, and were not aware of their condition.

In Brazil, the Ministry of Health estimates that about 866 thousand people have HIV, with 731 thousand diagnosed and 585 thousand under treatment with antiretroviral drugs provided by the Brazilian Unified Health System (SUS). In 2017, 30 thousand new cases were recorded, mostly men (73%) and 20-24-year-old individuals (36%).

Content published in April 2, 2019

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