Doctors Announce That A Second Patient Has Been ‘Cured’ Of H.I.V.

Scientists announced on Monday that a second patient appears to have been cured of infection with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS, reports The New York Times.

The case comes nearly 10 years after Timothy Ray Brown announced he was the so-called “Berlin Patient,” the first person who was functionally cured of HIV and able to stop taking antiretroviral drugs after an intensive round of chemotherapy and radiation and two bone marrow transplants.

Scientists have long tried to duplicate the procedure that led to the first permanent remission 12 years ago but had failed until their recent success with the so-called “London patient.” The new patient has chosen to remain anonymous.

The success now confirms that a cure for H.I.V. infection is possible, if difficult, researchers said.

Investigators will publish their report on Tuesday in the journal Nature and are scheduled to present some of the details at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle.

Scientists are publicly describing the case as a long-term “remission,” while in interviews, most experts are calling it a cure, with “the caveat that it is hard to know how to define the word when there are only two known instances,” reports the Times.

The two successful cases resulted from bone-marrow transplants given to infected patients intending to treat cancer, not H.I.V.

The Times reports:

Bone-marrow transplantation is unlikely to be a realistic treatment option in the near future. Powerful drugs are now available to control H.I.V. infection, while the transplants are risky, with harsh side effects that can last for years.

But rearming the body with immune cells similarly modified to resist H.I.V. might well succeed as a practical treatment, experts said.

“This will inspire people that cure is not a dream,” said Dr. Annemarie Wensing, a virologist at the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands. “It’s reachable.”

“I feel a sense of responsibility to help the doctors understand how it happened so they can develop the science,” the “london patient” told The New York Times in an email.

Learning that he could be cured of both cancer and H.I.V. infection was “surreal” and “overwhelming,” he added. “I never thought that there would be a cure during my lifetime.”