Woman Becomes Third Person Ever Cured of HIV
Scientists say that an unnamed woman has become the third person cured of HIV.
Her recovery involved a transplant method using umbilical cord blood, which is more widely available than adult stem cells needed for bone marrow transplants and doesn’t have to match as closely to the recipient. The case could expand the possibility of curing millions more.
The unidentified woman, a leukemia survivor past middle age, was treated with cord blood from a partially matched donor for her cancer. A close relative gave her blood to boost her temporary immune defenses as the transplant took root.
Scientists believe the patient’s relative’s blood allowed her to avoid severe side effects plaguing the first two people cured of HIV. The two men had bone marrow transplants but suffered side effects, including graft versus host disease, in which the donor’s cells attack the recipient’s body.
Experts believe the finding is especially significant given that the patient is racially mixed.
“The fact that she’s mixed race, and that she’s a woman, that is really important scientifically and really important in terms of the community impact,” said Steven Deeks, a University of California, San Francisco AIDS researcher.
“These are stories of providing inspiration to the field and perhaps the road map,” Deeks added.
As of 2020, roughly 37.7 million people were living with HIV.