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Hope For A Cure: HIV Patient Goes Into Long-Term Remission After Drug Treatment

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A Brazilian man with HIV has gone into long-term remission after drug therapy—and he is thought to be the first such case of remission following only pharmaceutical treatment.

Doctors reported that the patient, who is anonymous and referred to as the “Sao Paolo patient,” went into remission after going on an intense cocktail of AIDS medications, including antiretroviral therapy, or ART. He also took a drug called nicotinamide, which is a form of B3 vitamin.

The other two individuals believed to have been cured of HIV also were on medication, but they both had bone marrow transplants as well.

The Sao Paolo patient was diagnosed with HIV in 2012 and was on the cutting edge medical treatment for 48 weeks. After a year, his DNA and cells were studied and tests for HIV came back negative.

“We can’t search the entire body, but by the best evidence, we do not have infected cells,” said Dr Ricardo Diaz of the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, who co-led the study. “I think it’s very promising. This patient might be cured.”

“This case is extremely interesting, and I really hope that it may boost further research into an HIV cure,” said Andrea Savarino, a doctor at Italy’s Institute of Health who co-led the trial.

The researchers do caution, however, that four other HIV-positive patients treated in the trial with the same intensified drug cocktail did not have the same result as the Sao Paolo patient. There is also some skepticism in the medical community.

“Altogether, this is a remarkable claim, but exceedingly frustrating given the lack of detail about the virological status of the ‘Sao Paulo Patient’ or a plausible model for effect of vitamin B3. I am not convinced,” said Dr Jonathan Stoye, head of the Retrovirus-Host Interactions Laboratory at the Francis Crick Institute.

Adam Castillejo, 40, the second person in the world to be cured of HIV, revealed his identity almost a year after he was cleared of the AIDS-causing virus with a bone marrow transplant. Timothy Ray Brown, a U.S. man treated in Germany 12 years ago also underwent a bone marrow transplant and came out HIV-free.

“This is a unique position to be in, a unique and very humbling position. I want to be an ambassador of hope,” Castillejo said.

Patricia Grisafi

Written by Patricia Grisafi