The word “remission”
springs from the verb “to remit”. Remission means the ability to leave a
disease-free lifestyle having stopped taking treatment. Therefore, the term
“HIV Remission” is used to describe a situation when someone after receiving
treatments tailored to cure the virus and is very healthy, lives his normal
life again. That is where the question now arises: is it possible for a patient
to undergo a successful HIV treatment? Though there is no cure for HIV the
disease can go into ‘remission’, so to speak. During this period, the virus is
made to be under intense suppression for a long period of time by the immune
system without the use of ARV (abbreviation for antiretroviral).
of HIV remission has now been reported for the second time — a man known as
“London Patient” has been engaging in his daily activities after successful treatment. This patient has been
effectively cured of the disease following a stem transplant. It is now the 18th
month after having passed a successful treatment of the disease without ARV.
to the study lead author, Dr. Ravindra Gupta — a professor at the University
College of London and an HIV biologist who was involved in the — there is no
sign of virus after treatment but they cannot technically conclude now that he
has been fully cured; he still needs to be placed under careful examination. He
said: “Finding a way to eliminate the virus entirely is an urgent global
priority, but is practically difficult because the virus integrates into the
white blood cells of its host.”
“London Patient” Is the
Second-Known Patient to Have Had an HIV Remission
This is the second case of HIV remission reported. The
first was Timothy Brown (aka Berlin patient). Timothy Brown was tested positive
for HIV in 1995. Afterward, he started to
undergo ART but was still living with the virus. In addition, after some years
of living with the virus, Brown faced another health crisis — this time around,
a cancer of the blood, Leukemia. In order for Brown to survive this ordeal, he
needed, according to the senior doctor, to undergo a Stem Cell Transplant — a
treatment which helps to replace the unhealthy blood cells in the body with
normal blood cells. The doctors suggested that Brown needed a type of donor
whose genes can make the immune cells that are able to build resistance against
HIV. After years of careful examination, Brown has been reported to be
cancer-free and has no trace of the virus in his body.
years of Brown’s case, there comes the “London patient”. He was diagnosed with HIV infection in 2003 and had been on
Antiretroviral therapy since 2012. But later in 2012, this same patient
developed Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. As suggested by the doctors, the patient had to
undergo chemotherapy, in addition to Stem Cell Transplant. Like Timothy Brown,
the London Patient received stem cell transplant from a donor with the rare genetic mutation known as CCR5 delta
was used in the two patients because it is very effective in combating HIV as
it kills cells that are separating.
CCR5 is the
most commonly used receptor by HIV-1 patients who have two mutated copies of
the CCR5 alleles. This mutation, CCR5 delta 32’, prevents the virus from using
CCR5 as a receptor to enter the host’s cells.
Will There Be A Permanent Cure
height attained by medical doctors, other medical doctors believe that
replacing the host’s immune cells with those of the donor’s has proven to be an
effective way of preventing the HIV disease from re-occurring, thus helping the
patient to be on remission.
successful the two treatments were for both men, there are still some
complications. Both the Berlin and London patients experienced some pains — graft-versus-host
disease — a disease which occurs when the donor’s immune cells attack the
recipient’s. As believed by doctors,
this graft-versus-host disease also played a role in the disappearance of the
was presented on March the 5th at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic
Infections (CROI) in Seattle.
Although they can’t say that this is the best treatment so far, they are sure that more researches for the treatment which is absolutely capable to cure the disease totally are being carried out.
However, it is advised that you keep taking your medications if you are an HIV patient.