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A Patient May Be Free of HIV, Thanks to This Drug

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A sixth person, dubbed the “Geneva patient,” may be free of HIV after receiving a stem cell transplant intended to treat another disease—his cancer. The man, who was diagnosed with HIV in 1990, continues to have no detectable virus in his blood 20 months after stopping medication to control the infection.

So far, five people are considered to be cured of HIV after undergoing stem cell transplants for cancer. All five received stem cells from donors with a rare mutation in a gene called CCR5. Found in a small number of people with Northern European ancestry, this genetic alteration has been shown to hamper HIV’s ability to enter cells.

But the Geneva patient’s case, announced ahead of the International AIDS Society Conference in Australia this week, differs in a key way. This patient’s donor didn’t possess this protective mutation and had normal stem cells. “All the markers of HIV infection very quickly decreased until they became undetectable by classic analysis within a few months,” said Asier Sáez-Cirión, an HIV researcher at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, who…

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