People Completely Cured Of HIV / AIDS / Human Immunodeficiency Virus


I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Jul 19, 2004
Out of Bounds
To date, only one person has been declared clinically "cured" of infection by the HIV / AIDS virus. This was the patient originally known only as the "Berlin Patient."

This 2014 Live Science article reviews his unexpected cure and what researchers believe was the key to eradicating the virus.
Only 1 Person Has Been Cured of HIV: New Study Suggests Why

To this date, only one person is thought to have been cured of HIV — the "Berlin patient" Timothy Ray Brown. But no one is exactly sure which aspect of Brown's treatment may have cured him.

Now a new experiment on monkeys provides more evidence that a rare genetic mutation in the person who donated bone marrow to Brown may have had a central role in his cure.

Brown's HIV was eradicated in 2007 after he underwent a treatment in Germany for his leukemia, a cancer of the white blood cells. In the leukemia treatment, Brown first underwent radiation to kill the cancer cells and stem cells in his bone marrow that were creating them, and then received a bone-marrow transplant from a healthy donor to generate new blood cells.

After the treatment, not only was Brown's leukemia in remission, his HIV levels also plummeted to undetectable levels, and they have remained so ever since, even though he has not been taking the antiretroviral (ART) drugs typically used to keep HIV levels low in patients. ...

The reason the virus remains undetectable in Brown could be that the bone-marrow transplant was from a donor who had a rare genetic mutation that renders a person's CD4-T cells — the immune cells that are the main target of HIV infection — resistant to the virus.

Having this mutation, known as delta 32, results in having immune cells that have an altered form of a certain receptor called CCR5, which prevents the virus from entering the cells.

But it is also possible that radiation killed very nearly all of Brown's cells that contained HIV at the outset of his treatment ...

Still another possibility is that the new immune cells (that were produced by transplanted bone-marrow cells) attacked Brown's original cells, in what is called "graft-versus-host disease". ...

Now in a small study, Dr. Guido Silvestri, a pathologist at Emory University in Atlanta, and colleaguesgave the same treatment that Brown was given to three monkeys, to find out which step in the cancer treatment might have been responsible for the eradication of the HIV. ...

The findings support the idea that although radiation can reduce HIV levels, it's not enough to eliminate all reservoirs of the virus, the researchers said. The results suggest that in the case of the Berlin patient, either the genetic mutation of the bone-marrow donor or the graft-versus-host disease "played a significant role," the researchers said.

The Berlin patient's treatment has been tried in at least two other HIV patients who also had lymphoma — cancer of the lymph nodes. However, the bone-marrow donors in those cases did not have the rare mutation in the CCR5 gene. The patients initially appeared to be free of HIV, but the virus returned after a couple of months and the patients had to start antiretroviral medication again.
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The first person clinically declared "cured" of HIV infection has died of cancer at age 54.
Timothy Ray Brown, 1st person cured of HIV, dies after cancer relapse

Timothy Ray Brown, famous for being the first person to be cured of HIV, has died from cancer at age 54.

Known as the "Berlin patient," Brown was diagnosed with both HIV and acute myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the white blood cells, while living in Berlin more than a decade ago, according to Reuters. After his cancer diagnosis in 2006, Brown received radiation therapy and a bone marrow transplant in 2007; the goal of the treatment was to kill the existing cancer in his body and jumpstart production of healthy white blood cells, which are generated in the bone marrow. ...

After his initial bone marrow transplant in 2007, Brown was cleared of HIV and remained free of the virus until his death, The Associated Press reported. He required a second transplant in 2008 to eliminate his leukemia, but after years in remission, the cancer returned last year and spread to his spine and brain, Reuters reported. ...

A UK man (originally known only as the "London patient") was announced as being the 2nd person cured of HIV / AIDS in 2019.
A Second Person May Be Cured of HIV

A man in the United Kingdom may be the second person ever to be cured of HIV.

The new patient, who was diagnosed with the virus in 2003, appears to be HIV-free after a special bone-marrow transplant, according to a new report of his case.

The researchers caution that it's too soon to say for sure if the man has been definitively cured of HIV. But the patient has experienced long-term remission from the virus without the need for medications for 18 months. ...

Prior to his transplant, the London patient was taking antiretroviral medications to manage his HIV. In 2012, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of blood cancer that required treatment with a bone-marrow transplant, also known as hematopoietic stem cell transplant.

The stem cells used for the transplant came from a donor who had a relatively rare genetic mutation that confers resistance to HIV. Specifically, the donor had a mutation in a gene that codes for a protein called CCR5, which HIV uses as a "port" to get inside cells. Essentially, the mutation prevents HIV from being able to get inside people's cells, so it cannot cause infection.

The London patient has been off HIV medications for 18 months now, and is still HIV-free, the researchers said. They will continue to monitor the patient to determine if he has been definitively cured (meaning the HIV does not come back). ...
The second apparently cured patient continued his remission, was considered "cured", and revealed his identity in 2020.
UK man becomes second person cured of HIV after 30 months virus-free

A man in London appears to be the second person ever cured of HIV, his doctors said.

The man — whose case was first announced a year ago — has now been HIV-free for 30 months without the need for antiviral medications, according to a new report published Tuesday (March 10) in the journal The Lancet HIV.

Previously known only as the "London patient," the man revealed his identity on Monday (March 9). He is Adam Castillejo, a 40-year-old who was first diagnosed with HIV in 2003, according to The New York Times. ...
A woman has become the third person apparently cured of HIV / AIDS. Her course of treatment involved umbilical cord blood stem cells rather than a bone marrow transplant.
A third person has been cured of HIV, scientists report

A woman became the third person ever to be cured of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, after she received a stem-cell transplant that used cells from umbilical cord blood, scientists reported Tuesday (Feb. 15).

The two other people cured of HIV, Timothy Brown and Adam Castillejo, both received bone marrow transplants from donors who carried a genetic mutation that blocks HIV infection ... These transplants contained adult hematopoietic stem cells, which are stem cells that develop into all types of blood cells, including white blood cells, a key component of the immune system.

This genetic mutation is rare and has been identified in only about 20,000 bone marrow donors to date ... The bone marrow transplant procedure itself takes a heavy toll on the body, both during the highly invasive procedure and for some time afterward. In both Brown and Castillejo, immune cells from the donors' bone marrow launched an attack against cells in the patients' bodies; this condition is known as "graft versus host disease." Following this initial reaction, though, both men were cured of HIV.

However, the woman recently cured of HIV had a very different experience from the two men cured before her. ...

She left the hospital just 17 days after her procedure, without any signs of graft versus host disease ... Her case dispels an existing theory that triggering graft versus host disease might be a necessary step in curing someone of HIV ...

Cord blood offers an advantage over bone marrow because donors don't need to be closely "matched" to their transplant recipient ...

The woman's procedure took place in August 2017, according to The Guardian. She elected to stop taking antiretroviral drugs, the standard treatment for HIV, 37 months after her transplant, the Times reported. More than 14 months have passed since then, and still, no trace of the virus or antibodies against the virus can be found in her blood ...
Of note: apparently all three cured patients were being treated for cancer.
Of note: apparently all three cured patients were being treated for cancer.

Yes, and the beneficial result (on HIV infection) wasn't recognized until it surfaced as a curious side effect of the cancer treatment.

As I understand it ... In all three cases the cancer was the focal target for treatment. In the second and third cases the lesson learned from the first case (Berlin patient) led to deliberately seeking out donors with the rare genetic mutation that seems to render HIV viruses incapable of infecting the host.

My guess is that HIV management with anti-retroviral drugs is mature and effective enough (and bone marrow / stem cell transplantation still too radical and risky) to justify recommending the transplant approach for HIV infection alone.
The point that gets missed regarding medical outliers is that humans are not all the same. While 99.999999% of us fall within certain parameters, the potential for occurrences outwith that norm is always there. If it wasn't, there could be no evolution.
Moderna using their mRNA technology is testing an aids vaccine in clinical trials.

Moderna claims preliminary data shows a good response.

The question has not been answered if this vaccine would help a person if they already have aids.