The First Woman Reported Cured of HIV Using Stem Cell Transplant

A leukemia patient in the United States has become the first woman and only the third person to be cured of HIV after obtaining a stem cell transplant from a donor who was highly resistant to the virus that causes AIDS, according to researchers on Tuesday.

The situation of a middle-aged mixed-race woman, introduced at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Denver, was the first ever to use umbilical cord blood, a newer approach that could make the treatment more accessible to more people.

First woman reported cured of HIV after stem cell transplant

Since obtaining cord blood to treat her acute myeloid leukemia – a cancer that begins in blood-forming cells in the bone marrow  the woman has been in recovery and virus-free for 14 months, without the need for powerful HIV treatments recognized as antiretroviral treatment. The previous two cases involved males – one white and one Latino – who had obtained adult stem cells, which are more commonly used in bone marrow transplantation.

“This is now the third report of a cure in this setting, and the first in a woman living with HIV,” Sharon Lewin, President-Elect of the International AIDS Society, said in a statement.

Woman Cured of HIV Using Cord Blood Transplant: Report

“Taken together, these three cases of a cure post stem cell transplant all help in teasing out the various components of the transplant that were absolutely key to a cure,” Lewin stated.

According to the study, the transplantation of HIV-resistant cells is an important factor in the study’s success. Earlier, scientists believed that reconstruction disease, a common stem cell transplant side effect where the donor immune system attacks the recipient’s immune system, played a role in a potential cure.

Patients in the trial are first given chemotherapy to kill cancerous immune cells. Doctors then transplant stem cells from people who have a specific genetic mutation that makes them to lack receptors that the virus uses to contaminate cells.

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