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A third HIV-positive person may have been cured, it has been revealed at a conference in the US.
Earlier in the week, it was announced at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle, that a person may have been cured of HIV for the second time in history.
Now, it appears a third unidentified person - known as the 'Düsseldorf Patient' - is showing no signs of infection, having received stem cell transplant treatment four months ago. However, doctors who treated the patient advised that this period was not long enough to be considered 'long-term remission', as in the case of the first and second person to successfully receive the treatment.
Meanwhile, the second person ever to be declared in remission from HIV - the 'London Patient' - has shown no sign of infection in the three years since receiving bone marrow cells with a mutation known as CCR5 delta 32. It has also been 18 months since they stopped taking antiretroviral drugs to treat the disease.
While the news is undeniably positive, experts have warned that it is too early to declare that a cure has been found. What's more, the findings do not have any immediate and direct implications for the 37 million people across the world seeking to be cured of HIV.
All three people to have successfully received the stem cell treatment were also suffering from cancer, and as such, the life-threatening treatment was their only chance at survival. For most, it is much safer to take regular medication that enables a healthy life and makes the infection untransmittable.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Dr Anthony Fauci, head of the HIV/AIDS division at the National Institutes of Health, said the report of the London patient 'fortifies the proof of concept' that donor cells from someone who is HIV-resistant can wipe out a patient's HIV, if they survive the transplant. However, he emphasised the lack of impact the findings would have in the immediate term for people with HIV.
He said: "It's completely non-practical from the standpoint for the broad array of people who want to get cured.
"If I have Hodgkin's disease or myeloid leukemia that's going to kill me anyway, and I need to have a stem cell transplant, and I also happen to have HIV, then this is very interesting.
"But this is not applicable to the millions of people who don't need a stem cell transplant."
The first person to be 'cured' of HIV is Timothy Ray Brown - also known as the Berlin Patient - who has been clear of the infection since her received a stem cell transplant in 2007.
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