Doctors from the University of California were able to cure a 66-year-old man from HIV. A terrible diagnosis was made to him several decades ago – in 1988.
All these years the man took the necessary drugs. In addition to HIV infection, doctors also diagnosed him with leukemia, a blood cancer. To achieve remission, doctors decided to perform a life-saving stem cell transplant from a donor who had a rare genetic mutation, the homozygous CCR5 delta 32 mutation, which makes people resistant to most strains of HIV infection. This CCR5 mutation blocks HIV replication.
This patient had a high risk of recurrence of AML (acute myeloid leukemia), so we had to pay special attention to the process of his treatment. Before the man received the stem cell transplant, he went through three different chemotherapy courses,” says Ahmed Aribi.
Now the man is completely healthy – the doctors managed to achieve a stable remission. Since recovering from the transplant, he has shown no evidence of HIV virus replication in either blood or tissue samples. The doctors decided that he could stop taking antiretroviral therapy.
The man stopped taking the drugs in March 2021. To this day, he is under the close attention of specialists, regularly takes tests and goes to medical examinations. However, all studies confirm that there is no HIV infection in his body.
This patient was the oldest person to receive a stem cell transplant, was also the longest living with HIV before surgery and received the least amount of immunosuppressive therapy. After this success, we have clear evidence that with the right donor selection for patients living with HIV and developing blood cancer, we can use different types of chemotherapy to achieve double remission. This could open up completely new opportunities for older patients living with HIV and blood cancer,” said Yana Dikter.