Doctors: Woman possibly cured of HIV is step forward, but long way to go to end epidemic
A woman treated at a New York hospital could possibly be the first female to have been cured of HIV.
Doctors say the treatment used is only a feasible strategy for a handful of the millions of people living with HIV.
Dr. Sharon Nachman, an infectious disease specialist at Stony Brook Medicine, says it's important for people to know details about the treatment of the woman with HIV, who researchers say appears to be the third person ever to be possibly cured of the disease.
“This cure is very specific to somebody that had an underlying cancer, who then had to have their cancer treated and as part of her cancer treatment had to get a transplant and as part of her transplant, that’s where the innovation came in to use the stem cells,” Nachman says.
She says the woman, who is mixed-race and had leukemia, was treated with a transplant method involving umbilical cord blood, which came from a partially matched donor. The woman also received blood from a close relative to give her immune system time to adjust to the transplant.
According to researchers, the woman has been in remission from her leukemia for more than four years. Three years after her transplant, the woman and her doctors stopped her HIV treatment and 14 months later, she has no detectable levels of HIV.
Gregory Noone, executive director of Thursday’s Child, says the story of the woman who is possibly cured is inspirational, but he wants to see more evidence across Long Island that there could be an end to the AIDS epidemic.
Researchers estimate the treatment the woman received could only benefit around 50 patients a year in the United States.