A Brazilian man might become the first person to have been cured of HIV after being subjected to intensive experimental drug therapy as per a panel comprised of scientists at the annual AIDS 2020 medical conference. This man, 34 years old, was first diagnosed with HIV back in 2012. He is the only person to have continued the long-term HIV remission after undergoing a year-long course of intensive anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs. He received all treatment along with four other patients, but he is the only one who may have been cured.
The researchers disclosed their findings in the last week’s virtual International Aids Society conference but have also warned that further analysis is required before something definitive can be said. The team said, ‘Although still an isolated case, this might represent the first long-term HIV remission’ without a more extensive bone-marrow transplant.
The patient who is also the third-person ever to have been cured of the disease underwent the standard ARV treatment two months after the initial diagnosis and was then a part of a clinical trial where he was administered the standard ARTs apart from the HIV drugs dolutegravir and maraviroc. He also received nicotinamide – a kind of vitamin B that takes on the part of the HIV that infects cells, leading them to self-destruct and activating the immune system.
The patient remained in intensive therapy for about a year and was then removed from the treatment back in March 2019. Since then, he has been undergoing tests every three weeks, and now a year later, he still shows no sign of any detectable viral load or antibodies. Professor Sharon Lewin, an HIV and infectious diseases expert at the University of Melbourne, said, ‘When someone is infected with a virus, they make antibodies. And antibodies don’t budge, even when you’re on treatment, and there’s no detectable viral load. But this showed he had no antibodies which are supportive of him being cured.’
Ricardo Diaz of the University of Sao Paulo, located in Brazil, who is also the lead scientist of the study, said, ‘I was trying to wake up the virus and boost the immune system’s capability to fully eliminate the virus after it’s forced out of proverbial hiding. We can’t search the entire body, but by the best evidence, we do not have infected cells. I think it’s very promising. This patient might be cured.’