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Why HIV advance is not a universal cure
December 15th, 2010
11:31 AM ET

Why HIV advance is not a universal cure

The internet is buzzing about an HIV-infected man who may have gotten rid of his disease through a bone marrow transplant. But the procedures he went through do not represent a cure for all HIV/AIDS patients, as they are risky and not proven to work in everyone. Also, the disease could still be lurking the patient's body, doctors say.

The news about Timothy Ray Brown, a 44-year-old American living in Berlin, first surfaced in 2008, when his doctors reported about his case.  Here's what happened with Brown, who is HIV positive and broke his silence in a recent article with the German magazine Stern .  He is battling a cancer called acute myeloid leukemia. Doctors first treated him high-dose chemotherapy, but when that failed, turned to a bone marrow transplant (which contains stem cells) in 2007.

Brown's oncologist decided to look for a bone marrow donor who had a had a special genetic mutation that made the stem cells in it naturally resistant to HIV infection.  His physician, Dr. Gero Huetter, was able to find this rare match and Brown got the bone marrow transplant.  He needed a second stem cell transplant because the cancer came back.

Today, he appears to be cancer free and doctors can't find traces of the virus that causes AIDS either.

This fascinating scientific advance is by no means a cure for the more than 33 million people living with HIV worldwide. As CNN's Miriam Falco reported in 2008:

1. Even though their tests do not show a presence of HIV in his system, doesn't mean it's not there. This virus is known for hiding well and popping up later. It's been seen before in patients taking anti-retroviral drugs. It is possible that if more sophisticated tests were used on this patient, they would detect the virus that is still in his body. So it's still not entirely clear that he is HIV-free.

2. The chances of finding a bone marrow donor with two copies of this genetic mutation for every one of the 33 million people worldwide living with HIV or AIDS is not realistic because only one percent of Caucasians and zero percent of African Americans or Asians have this particular genetic mutation.

3. Bone marrow transplants are dangerous for patients. Before they can get the donated stem cells that will replace their own, they have to take strong chemotherapy to destroy their own bone marrow – leaving them without an immune system to fight off any disease – until the transplanted bone marrow can make new blood cells. Plus patients run the risk of rejecting the new cells, which means they have to take immune-suppressing drugs for the rest of their life.

4. Bone marrow transplants are very expensive and not an option for many people living with this disease around the world.

Just how dangerous are bone marrow transplants? About one-third of patients die during them, Dr. Jay Levy told Health.com last year.

Bottom line: It's exciting news, but not likely to cure the global AIDS pandemic.


soundoff (202 Responses)
  1. anon

    This is a BS article, okay? This is effectively a cure for HIV. Yes it's a risky cure, but it's no more risky than if you were treating leukemia. I don't see people saying that we should stop treating leukemia now because transplants are so risky. Both are terminal illnesses with 100% mortality rate. Even if HIV is treatable, the average lifespan in greatly reduced because of the toxicity of the treatments. I don't see why HIV positive people would not be interested in pursing this potential cure to be rid of HIV permanently. It's highly likely that Brown has been completely cured and the disease is not just hiding somewhere. And a mutation rate of 1% still leaves us with a million or so possible carriers in the European continent, who only have to give up some blood, which can be regenerated, to make this happen. Yes, this is a cure, CNN. A risky cure, but a cure> The only reason you would knock it is if you would prefer to prop up pharmaceutical companies with antiretroviral treatments.

    December 15, 2010 at 11:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rob

      Dear anon, I don't think you caught the most important point. In order to get a bone marrow transplant, you have to first find a compatible donor. Once you find a compatible donor, that donor must have the HIV resistant stem cells. Only 1% of white people have it. So of all the compatible donors, only 1% of them are "viable" candidates for white people. No African or Asian based gene pools have the resistance – none of them. So the "risk" isn't the important part. I take the "risk" of a transplant over living with HIV anyday. This article is simply laying out the cold, hard truth. It looks like it might have worked for this guy, but the chances of it being a cure for all people living with HIV is simply zero. Now this doesn't mean that the research isn't important and might lead to a more widely applicable cure later on. But the article isn't BS. It's hard science in response to the sensationalized BS that the media hyped upon hearing about this work. I wish it were different. But this simply won't work for many millions of people living with HIV. They simply physically don't have a genetic match with HIV resistant stem cells. Also, it seems pretty clear that you don't understand the mechanics of a bone marrow transplant. The donor has to do more than give blood. There aren't many "donors" who would be willing to undergo the pain of donating bone marrow for a complete stranger. And no insurance program is going to pay for it. The costs of a bone marrow transplant and the necessary meds for immunosuppression for the rest of the patient's life are on par with the cost of this procedure outside the US where HIV meds tend to be cheaper. In the US the procedure is about $ 250,000 while the HIV meds average $ 500,000 for life. So for white men and women in the US, it's a somewhat viable option, but since insurance won't pay to cover it, and most folks don't have $ 250,000 lying around, it still just doesn't fly. I wish it did. I have one close friend with HIV and know a dozen more. I worry a lot about them. If I thought I could donate bone marrow to them all, I'd do it. But the chances of it working for them is low. The guy in Berlin – he got lucky. Let's hope his luck helps the rest of the world get lucky one day. But that day isn't today.

      December 15, 2010 at 12:31 | Report abuse |
    • sami

      I agree with Rob. This isn't a cure and obviously there is still a lot of work to be done but this one case shows that there is something being done. I honestly believe it's just a matter of time until a cure is found.

      December 15, 2010 at 12:45 | Report abuse |
    • LS

      Rob,
      I know this may be overly optimistic, but thousands of people donate their bone marrow to complete strangers every year. I would do it. Yes, you have to give up a day and sit there as they have you hooked up to a machine but it usually doesn't require surgery anymore. Also, I doubt it's 0% in Asian or African people, since genetics don't work that way. I am sure if enough people were tested, then I'm sure some would turn up as having the gene. Also, can someone's bone marrow be given to more than one person?

      Insurance does pay for it for cancer patients. Of course the next step would be large scale clinical trials, which patients don't have to pay for. If the outcomes are good in these trials, then it could become an FDA approved treatment. We could pass laws saying that insurance companies have to pay for it, like we do for many cancer treatments. Also, eventually I would hope we'd get rid of insurance companies all together in the near future.

      At the very least, it's a pretty viable option for white AIDs patients in Europe with few others options. State run healthcare and millions of potential donors around them.

      December 15, 2010 at 13:23 | Report abuse |
    • corey

      Thank you!! I couldn't have said it better myself. Now watch how the US will deem this method as unsafe and ban it. However you can get all the plastic surgery and botox you want because it is a cash cow. You never hear the details of how risky that is, and as long as the right people keep getting bribed you won't. The last thing that got cured was polio. I think it is time for another cure. Kudos to you Berlin.

      December 15, 2010 at 13:36 | Report abuse |
    • Todd

      Anon, try to keep your information up to date. The drugs made today are not that toxic. The drugs made in the 1980 and early 1990s are.

      Today, if people catch the disease early, they won't have the problems you are quoting.

      Could the drugs today have long term ramiifications? Maybe, but the answer is not a definite yes.

      December 15, 2010 at 13:44 | Report abuse |
    • A. Von Sachsen

      First, let`s establish that you are not a M.D., second, Rob has it down path, third, pharma companies aren`t interested in cures, they are only interested in sales. If you cure a patient, the pationt has no need of the medication. Pharma companies want medicines that control an illnes, so they can continue to sell pills to the patien for the rest of his/her life. I sure hope your investment portfolio has shares of pharma companies.

      December 15, 2010 at 14:21 | Report abuse |
    • ct203_mark

      @ROB – You started good, though I don't know if your procedure cost of $250k included the mentioned "needing to take immuno-suppression drugs for the rest of your life"... a quick look on the net seemed to indicate that a lot of the drugs cost 100k/year (http://guidance.nice.org.uk/TA85/Guidance/Evidence for example, look under 4.2 cost effectiveness). I don't know how accurate it is though, so I'd take it with a grain of salt. Plus the fact that 1/3rd of bone marrow transplant patients die – 1/3rd – so if it were possible to have a million people try it, 333k would die. That's a pretty big death ratio – compared to if 10 people die because of tainted "insert drug or food of choice in here" and they pull the whole batch. They also mentioned that it's possible that it's still not gone. 1 successful person is not statistically significant, you might have better luck trying for powerball. It's a nice thought, but I'll stick with my current meds for as long as possible.

      December 15, 2010 at 14:22 | Report abuse |
    • Anonymous

      Anon, I think you are looking at the article negatively. From a scientific stand point, we do not have a cure for HIV, YET. All that happened is that in one person they were able to rid his body of HIV as well as cancer. This has yet to be reproduced in another person, so it has not been proven a cure. Stating such does not mean that you prop up pharmaceutical companies. The article is responsibly stating fact, unlike some other sources who just claim cure is found.

      This is a great advancement for the world, HIV can be removed from the body. This discovery will help pour more money into the much needed research. Hopefully they will be able to find a method that doesn't require such high risk to the patient as well.

      December 15, 2010 at 14:25 | Report abuse |
    • Clint

      @LS, No the genes aren't in the African or Asian populations. Maybe in some of the people in those populations that have a white parent or grandparent. We are still talking about a very small number of people. Yes, it is possible to give Bone Marrow from one donor to more than one person. It is just highly unlikely. You see each of the people concerned have to match up on not just blood type but several genetic markers. The new marrow has to make blood cells that are a very close match to the receipent's blood. Let's just say that its a very small statistic for that to happen. Then you want the donor to have this genetic resistance which is realistically present in 1% of Caucasian people.

      A more realistic treatment would be to find a way to take the infected person's cells revert them to stem cells, a sample free of infection. Find a way to incorporate the genetic resistance into their genes. Blow out their bone marrow, then transplant in their own marrow, with the new hybrid adaptation. This method isn't possible yet but it could be possible sooner than we think.

      December 15, 2010 at 14:26 | Report abuse |
    • AnonIsDumb

      Wow. Anon, you have no idea how this works. This article is 100% correct, and I remember reading about this case 2 years ago and thinking "oh some idiot is going to misinterpret this as a cure". Found him!

      Technically, I can drink bleach and cure Aids; however, one 100% adverse event is death. I don't think anyone has even mentioned to you Graft-versus-host disease. Do you have any idea how that works? HIV is a walk in the park compared to GvHD, which this patient could have developed but thankfully didn't.

      Please grow a brain and use. Thanks!

      December 15, 2010 at 14:39 | Report abuse |
    • PZ

      This is a case study, which obviously would not be representative of a population of AIDS patients. However, it does create an interesting model for future research in the field. Saying that this is a cure is prob 5-10 years too early, best case scenario.

      December 15, 2010 at 14:56 | Report abuse |
    • Walter

      Anon,
      A 1% carrier rate does mean that there could be millions of carriers on the European continent, which is great. However, finding a bone marrow match with similar genetic markers (without this gene) is often very difficult for many people already. It is definitely something to look into, as is any potential cure, however, there is a 1 in a million chance for most AIDS patients of finding a bone marrow that matches their genetic markers/blood type as well as have this mutation. Once again, very promising, but by no means a cure.

      December 15, 2010 at 17:23 | Report abuse |
    • Barry JW Viator

      I totally agree this is a cure, and if it's good for luekemia why not Aids??? Definitely a desire to play for the pharmas ... CNN your bias is soo uncalled for. I bet if the writer of this article had AIDS he would want to be cured by any means possible. Like marilyn manson said ... a pill to get you high, to cure, to die...
      When our generation takes control the world is in for a big change!!!!
      Solar Power = Free Elec(on residential,government, and business) = Elec cars(Nissan Leaf is only 25K and 100% elec) = free travel = free transport of products = reduce price of goods = freedom from the economic slavery that big business and bureaucrats have put upon us... death to politics!

      December 15, 2010 at 17:56 | Report abuse |
    • Tim W.

      I agree ! There is money in looking for a cure and in treatment.....there is no money in a CURE !

      December 15, 2010 at 18:10 | Report abuse |
    • Toji Takashi

      Hi Anon,
      I think you missed one of the most important there. Please allow me to explain the technical difficulties regarding a bone marrow transplant. 1% of the Caucasians have the genetic mutations that would resist the HIV virus. Now, that is not the end of the story yet, out of that 1%, you have to find a donor that will match your genetic make up. It is not as simple as matching blood type. Chemo then Immunosuppressant will have to be taken by the patient, leaving the patient zero immune system, which means, a common cold will get the patient kill.
      And on top of that, for those "republican" friends, your insurance company will not pay for this treatment due to its extreme high cost (the cost of finding a matching donor and all those labs work are extremely high, plus putting you in reserved isolation). Your insurance company will much whether to have you on HIV antiviral medication than trying this risky treatments due to its extreme high cost.
      So, your death panel is actually the insurance company, not the government.

      December 15, 2010 at 18:16 | Report abuse |
    • Nathan

      Cancer in no way, shape, or form has a 100% mortality rate... Neither does the HIV virus.

      December 16, 2010 at 02:58 | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      Another problem with this procedure is that you can only undergo the procedure when you’re not sick (counterintuitive). Most AIDS patients present with secondary infections like CMV, candida, etc. The moment you irradiate the heck out of their cells, those opportunistic infections can now grow like wildfire—assuming those infections don’t get destroyed by the radiation. Since the immune system is gone for 2-3 month, that’s essentially letting the pathogens grow unchecked, which is way too risky.

      December 16, 2010 at 09:27 | Report abuse |
    • imdaznboi

      To echo others' comments and add to their veracity, not only do you have to find a donor match within that 1% of the population, but the match person also has to be REGISTERED in the bone marrow registry! The odds are thus even further dwindled. How many people do you know who have registered themselves with the NMDP (National Marrow Donor Program) Registry?

      December 17, 2010 at 10:30 | Report abuse |
  2. Dan I.

    Anon;

    Did you not read the article? This is only a "cure" in that this one guy APPEARS to be HIV free. But many patients who take the antiretroviral drugs used to treat HIV "appear" HIV free only to have the virus reappear later. It is not at all uncommon for a HIV+ patient to present with no detectable viral load, but take them off the drugs and there it is. That's why the anti-retrovirals aren't a "cure" they do not eradicate the disease. There is no way to know if that is the case here until/unless the virus reappears.

    Secondly, this is not a VIABLE cure because of the extremely long odds of finding a bone marrow donor who is ALSO a carrier of this mutation. The reason this is a GOOD article is that it counters the "HIV CURED!!!!!!" hype that's spreading because of other articles (some from CNN itself) on this issue.

    December 15, 2010 at 12:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Bobby

    I want to go on a trial test. I will take every risk I can to remove my HIV.

    December 15, 2010 at 12:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sami

      Even though this man in Berlin may have been cured there is still much work to be done before a definite cure for HIV/AIDS is found. But never the less I am very hopeful because I feel like this case shows things are moving in the right direction. I admire your strength and am hopeful for the future. A cure is out there and it will be found.

      December 15, 2010 at 12:31 | Report abuse |
    • AnonIsDumb

      Bobby, I empathize, but it's clear you don't understand how this works.

      December 15, 2010 at 14:40 | Report abuse |
    • marie

      Consider the potential complication of graft vs host disease (GVHD). I'd much rather live with HIV than with GVHD- with which you certainly won't live very long.

      December 15, 2010 at 14:56 | Report abuse |
    • AnonIsDumb

      well said Marie

      December 15, 2010 at 15:00 | Report abuse |
    • Barry JW Viator

      Notice how the ppl w/o HIV/AID or so quick to say its not a cure and use all the negative undertones... HIV/AIDS is a social stigma and to those that have it.. Their are some that would do anything to be normal again. If this works even for one person, let any other man/woman/child interested try it! They know the risks, but the chance even the slightest chance of being normal again might be worth it to them. So let them be the judge and holder of their own destiny. Who are we to tell them no... And then you will get your god forsaken statistics you bunch of negative nancys... but if you keep down playing this stuff then we will never know....

      December 15, 2010 at 18:09 | Report abuse |
  4. anon

    I'm going to have to double what anon said. This article is way too negative and appears to be a piece meant to persuade. So bone marrow transplants are risky. Still didn't mean there's a good chance this person wasn't cured of HIV. So do you disavow a cure simply because it comes from a dangerous procedure? Shouldn't that mean there's hope gene therapy or a less dangerous procedure built on this person's experience could yield a more feasible cure? I don't see why any medical professional wouldn't be excited about this news and at least find it encouraging for the prospect of a cure. Oops I meant a more manageable cure because it looks like they may have already found a cure 🙂

    December 15, 2010 at 12:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sami

      I completely agree! Yes there is definitely good reason to be skeptical about this being a cure but that doesn't make it impossible. This is a major devlopment and if it continues to be researched and developed something incredible could come from it. It may be risky but possibly curing a life threatening disease that carries so much fear and stigma along with it is worth it!

      December 15, 2010 at 12:37 | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      anon#2, you're right. People SHOULD get excited about this. But the problem is that I actually had one of my HIV positive friends call me excited about this cure. He later called me back very disappointed to find out the facts. That it wouldn't help him because he's Asian. Had this article been released first, it would still have been a hugely positive announcement. But the media hyped it up with headlines like "HIV CURED" and that simply isn't true for the vast majority of folks living with HIV. It's a lot like yelling "Fire" in a theater just to get attention. The media was irresponsible in it's reporting. CNN is just setting the record straight. But I'm right there with you on hoping this leads to better things – and quickly. This disease needs to end.

      December 15, 2010 at 12:38 | Report abuse |
    • anon

      Hey Rob. I'm sorry your friend was given misleading information and was disappointed. He's right and so are you that a cure hasn't been found that can be given to everyone. I just wanted express my view that this article might be trying to discredit what has been accomplished. There's a good chance that this patient has been cured and you're right that it gives hope for the future. Instead of tempering that hope, I think articles lean to extinguish it. I'm not a doctor but we can all see when journalists are trying to persuade instead of report. Also because there hasn't been reported mutation in the Asian community doesn't mean your friend couldn't be helped by this. No one has reported that Asians or African Americans couldn't benefit from a similar procedure. The quote simply meant to say they doubt potential donors would be found in the Asian or African American communities. That doesn't mean that all communities can't benefit from this discovery. The reality is that this is just the first step, will take many years and may not help people in our generation. It's one thing to promise false hope, which I never want to be associated with, but it's another not to advocate for what one believes is the right course. Antivirals are a great help to people here and now. Although in the future, I would love for this stem cell/Berlin patient result to be the basis of an almost universal cure. There's a chance that might happen and that's something that can give us hope. This is a case for excitement, it should be tempered but I think hope is a good thing to have.

      December 15, 2010 at 13:32 | Report abuse |
    • Gidgit

      Just so you know, before you try to post as someone else agreeing with your original statement, you should change your name.

      December 15, 2010 at 15:08 | Report abuse |
    • Energy

      This is exciting yes, is this feasable for even 5% of HIV patients no. Everyone hates this article becasue it does an excellent job reporting the scientific pitfalls. I am sorry but welcome to the world of science. This is what we do, break down the argumet and present its dowsides to interpet the data. We should not get too excited until more data is produced.

      December 15, 2010 at 17:34 | Report abuse |
    • scid

      I think the article is positive in terms of laying out the story of a possible cure; at the same time, this article cautions cure seekers not to jump too fast because of the ongoing media hype. Since 99% of the people leaving comments here are not scientists or research students, they will comment somewhat inaccurately. Picking on each other's inaccurate remarks is not productive. We should be happy that science is leading us somewhere and business is poisoning the progress.

      December 15, 2010 at 19:05 | Report abuse |
  5. strangeronfire

    living with HIV on retrovirals – let me just put that out there first.

    secondly, although this isn't a cure for the majority of us who are now living with the disease...this shows promise for future therapies involving stem cell research and the eradication of this virus from the human body. Several exciting studies are going on now regarding this approach, and stories like this definitely gives hope for future therapy regarding re-engineering of our own immune system. we are able to hack our own immune system, and this study is without a doubt a proof of concept. i'm very excited. I think pessimistic articles like the one above only add to the woe of living with this disease. it's as if to say "nothing is gonna change".

    research says otherwise

    December 15, 2010 at 12:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sami

      I agree completely! This development definitely shows that progress has been made in the search for a cure. There isn't a cure yet but progress is still progress!

      December 15, 2010 at 12:48 | Report abuse |
    • AnonIsDumb

      Finally CNN is responsible and doesn't sensationalize medical research, and we have patients blasting them for it. Idiots.

      December 15, 2010 at 15:03 | Report abuse |
  6. A.I.D.S. Activist

    Anon basically stated my thoughts! I would like to include that I take great exception to the report that just aired! If CNN knew the expense of current A.I.D.S. medication or the fact that many of the meds become ineffective eventually! If researchers can replicate in the lab from a donor(s) (sorry right wing) that if stem cell therapy can prove to be a cure for some cancer and HIV then YES there would be a line out the Doctors door of people willing to take the risky treatment! It is irresponsible for CNN to report that A.I.D.S. medications are the end all solution to the virus! It is just not true! I feel that CNN is protecting the companies who make and over charge for the current medications! I as others understand that stem cell treatments may be off in the distance it is something that will give millions HOPE to the end of such a devastating virus that stills kills no matter how many pills are put in there mouths! Shame on you CNN for slanting this story in favor of pharmaceutical Companies and NOT in favor of a hopeful cure even if it is dangerous and or could be deadly! If a person with cancer is willing to take this risk then you can BET your bottom prescription dollar that MANY living with A.I.D.S. will be more than willing to try Stem Cell transplants! The real question is will Pharmaceutical Companies be willing to lose there cash cow to focus on Stem Cell Research! I bet they won't!!

    December 15, 2010 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • strangeronfire

      just wanted to echo your remarks. well said

      December 15, 2010 at 13:02 | Report abuse |
    • Clint

      Little strong to say CNN is protecting the Drug companies. Maybe they are just saying that realistically the antiviral drugs work for almost everyone. Where as a bone marrow transplant has little chance of working for any significant number of HIV patients. You just don't know what the author was thinking, I should also say you could very well be right.

      December 15, 2010 at 14:36 | Report abuse |
    • AnonIsDumb

      Oh my god. AIDs Activist, you are so wrong I would have to sit here and type for hours to iron out all of your misunderstandings. No one is protecting the drug companies here! This is not a cure, this is likely not even a step towards a cure, this is a freak incident that was insanely risky. Look up Graft vs. Host Disease (amongst the other reasons this is insane) and compare it to HIV.

      December 15, 2010 at 14:43 | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      It would seem, unfortunately, that some are reading into this whatever they want to see. We work closely with HIV patients, and the issue is NOT risk; rest assured many of our clients would take a shot at it IF it was a viable cure – a step in the right direction possibly, but not a universal cure, and operative the word in this is 'universal'

      One single, isolated case does not a cure make. And the article accurately reflects the position that they may not be able to detect HIV but that does not by any means mean it has been eradicated; it only means current testing methods are not yet sufficient to make that declaration. There remains considerable evidence to also suggest the brain remains a significant reservoir and that area has not been fully understood.

      This is by any measure a positive development, but it is potential cure a decade down the road for only a rare few.

      December 15, 2010 at 15:57 | Report abuse |
    • AnonIsDumb

      Mark, I suppose your first statement is true 🙂 because issue #1 is risk and I'm not sure how anyone could say otherwise! One could work around the universal aspect with enough effort and while we can't prove that this is a cure yet, its highly unlikely that the virus would remain undetectable without therapy for over 2 years of continuous testing.

      Even if it is a cure, even if it is universal, it STILL would be useless due to the risk. If risk is not an issue, just tell your patients to drink bleach. It's far simpler with comparable risk 🙂

      December 15, 2010 at 16:09 | Report abuse |
    • Energy

      @AnonIsDumb
      As far a not being able to detect a virus, ever hear of shingles? That appears years after exposure after the virus exits its latency. There is some reading for you. http://www.nfid.org/pdf/factsheets/varicellaadult.pdf

      December 15, 2010 at 17:23 | Report abuse |
  7. mimichigan

    This story first broke in 2008.....why is it news now?

    December 15, 2010 at 13:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • strangeronfire

      because up until now, this man's name has been protected (due to obvious reasons). he recently granted an interview with a german publication. THAT'S why is news now. until now...he was just known as 'the berlin patient". this gives a face to the name...which helps to dis-spell the idea that this was a fairy tale.

      December 15, 2010 at 13:04 | Report abuse |
    • AnonIsDumb

      ummmm no one ever thought this was a fairy tale. For some reason, seeing his face adds some sort illogical, emotional stigma to the absurdity.

      December 15, 2010 at 15:15 | Report abuse |
  8. LS

    Is there a way to find out if you carry this particular gene mutatism? If I found out I had to gene, I would be more than happy to donate my bone marrow to a patient who wanted to attempt this risky procedure or to a research study. Can people who have the gene donate their bone marrow more than once? Yes, I know donating bone marrow is inconvienent, but if you know you're saving someone's life, then I bet people would be willing to donate more than once. Can you give someone's bone marrow to multiple people?

    I think that this does represent the best hope for people with HIV, especially for people who no longer respond to anti-retroviral or who have severe side effects from them. Despite the risk, at this point, HIV has a 100% death rate. Also, with such a large group of willingly research subjects, doctors would improve the success rate of the bone marrow transplant.

    December 15, 2010 at 13:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Clint

      In theory, yes you could find multiple people that would be a match for your bone marrow. Realistically, no, the number of people that you would match is just to small. I mean you have to match in three different markers that have many different combinations. Even ethinicity plays a part since populations have 'clumps' of the similar markers. This is a good reason why it is difficult for African Americans to match pure African populations. The African American's genetics have diverged from their African Ancestors. Same thing with Caucasian populations in the U.S. and in Britain. The genetics have diverged and it is very tough to find a match between populations. Next, the survival rate is dismal for partial match donors, like 33%. Best match is a sibling, since there really are a crazy number of differences, but the chance of a sibling matching is very good. Since there are only 2 genes for each of the three markers for each parent. Still that is something like 64 different combinations but chances of being a strong match are better than in complete strangers.

      December 15, 2010 at 15:01 | Report abuse |
  9. Uh

    Wow. Between the miserable, over-wrought nitpicking of the article and the cloying comments, I've found my 405th reason for wondering why I bother with CNN anymore.

    December 15, 2010 at 13:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Chris

    Ever noticed how few CURES make it into the drug store or doctor's office? I'm sure the minute somebody comes up with a cure for HIV, they will be greated by a gun and briefcase full of money from the pharmacutical companies. Either he will agree to bury it and live a life of luxury, or spend the rest of his life curing AIDS patients in the witness protection program. What a SHAME. The same goes for obesity cures or diabetes cures. WE WILL NEVER SEE THEM.

    December 15, 2010 at 13:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chico Blacklung

      They have a cure for obesity already. It's called, staying active and eating healthy.

      December 19, 2010 at 10:27 | Report abuse |
  11. Bikegirl

    Why all the bad grammar in this article?? Makes me wonder about who would put out such shoddy writing!

    December 15, 2010 at 13:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • AK

      Completely agree…where’s the proofreader? This is a professional blog hosted by a major network’s website…get it together!

      December 15, 2010 at 14:07 | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      I was just wondering the same thing?!? I mean, even Microsoft WORD will proof read for grammar. Where is the professionalism, CNN?

      December 15, 2010 at 19:10 | Report abuse |
  12. Amy

    What happened to proof reading?

    December 15, 2010 at 14:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Joe

    1% of Caucasians are resistant to HIV? Hopefully this means that science can one day make everybody resistant. I wonder if it's a fluke of nature or came about because of some long lost disease certain groups had to deal with.
    Anyway, it's my understanding that you can live a relatively normal life with HIV as long as you have access to the proper medication. A cure is better, but this doesn't sound like a practical cure anyway.

    December 15, 2010 at 14:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • AnonIsDumb

      Well said.

      December 15, 2010 at 14:44 | Report abuse |
    • April

      The mutation was discovered because there were survivors of bubonic plague in small villages that shut themselves off to protect society. (See the village of Eyam in Derbyshire) When scientists studied the descendants of these survivors (who shouldn't have lived through plague in the closed village environment), they discovered the mutation. So, there is a very small percentage–those with caucasian European descent–who are immune to both AIDS and Bubonic Plague. The diseases work in much the same way, and the mutation works to protect the body in much the same way for both. They've known about the mutation for a very long time, but without being able to manipulate genes on such a minute level, there is not much they can do about it. (It is called CCR5 Delta 32). In 2007, a Nobel Prize was awarded for individual gene modification–but we're a long way from being able to replace gene sequences on individual genes, and even if we could, we do not know if the mutation would be able to cure the disease in addition to just preventing it. Promising case, nonetheless.

      December 15, 2010 at 15:01 | Report abuse |
    • AnonIsDumb

      April, your post is a bit confusing though I think it is accurate... except that we almost certainly did cure HIV in this case because the allogenic transplant effectively gave him an immune system with the resistant genes. So we can transfer genes via "transplants" as a vehicle though this is only applicable to select cases (in particular, immune mediated diseases).

      December 15, 2010 at 15:07 | Report abuse |
    • Clint

      Well, I remember reading somewhere that in the population somwhere around 1 to 10 % has a natural resistance to any virus. So, some people only get very mild Flu. Now, of the people who have a resistance, something like 1% of those are not only resistant but are actually capable of fighting off a virus effectively. Problem is that to find someone who would never get infected with HIV is difficult, they would present any symptoms of the disease. Remember we are talking about maybe 50 million in the first group worldwide maximum, and only around 500 thousand in the second group. Even smaller numbers if only very specific mutation is required that is in a very specific population.

      December 15, 2010 at 15:12 | Report abuse |
    • Clint

      meant to say "would not present any symptoms of the disease"

      December 15, 2010 at 15:24 | Report abuse |
    • iomdwa

      April is exactly right. The mutation has long been identified and work is being done to examine possible therapies and a few small molecule receptor blocking drugs are on the market for treatment, Maraviroc is one. The problem with transplants is that often the patients cells are not completely destroyed and HIV can be hidden within the dendritic cells. The major problem with all of this though, is that the CCR5 receptor is not the only receptor that HIV-1 uses to enter t-cells, many new strains now can also use the CXCR4 receptor to which there is no known immunity. This is a great story for one man, and i hope it increases interest and research, but it is simply infeasible to call it an HIV cure.

      December 15, 2010 at 16:20 | Report abuse |
  14. JacktheCritic

    Wow...can anyone just be happy that the guy may have cured his HIV? I don't think the US is trying to tell people its a terrible treatment, they're just saying its a very risky one, much like any other treatment for a major disease. And I'm betting it's REALLY expensive. So to him I say congratulations and I hope this works out. To others, I say good luck. I mean c'mon people, can't we all just feel good for someone else without making it all political these days?

    December 15, 2010 at 14:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • marie

      The odds of this occurring in another person are almost 0. The odds of finding a marrow match period are slim. Then add this rare genetic mutation (you have to multiply to 2 possibilities). You might as well advertise for the lottery and say hey, anybody can win 100x! And another major point is that the virus still could be present in this patient. Nothing political about it.

      December 15, 2010 at 14:59 | Report abuse |
  15. Mogdaork

    Well thats a start now isnt it

    December 15, 2010 at 14:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. questioning

    Seems sort of odd that they can rule out Asians and Africans as a gene pool, I mean aren't most people mixed; they are in the USA?

    December 15, 2010 at 15:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Clint

      Mixing of genetic pools really isn't as widespread as people think. Just think of how many people have parents of different ethnicity. I mean the U.S population is most likely the biggest mixing pot because hey we have a little of everything. Even that causes divergence in population though. For instance, it is very unlikely to find a bone marrow match between two White people, one from the U.S., the other from Britain, even if they have a common Great Great Grandparent.

      December 15, 2010 at 15:20 | Report abuse |
  17. Jim

    The cure is out there. Check out Dr. Sam Chachoua and his work with cancer and AIDS. He sued UCLA/ Cedar Sinai for $10 million for, in essence, stealing and losing his research and WON. Not sure why his work has been swept under the carpet... maybe because he doesn't only subscribe to Western medicine. And his cure would lose BILLION for pharmaceutical companies.

    December 15, 2010 at 15:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • AnonIsDumb

      It's more likely that he is nut job.

      December 15, 2010 at 15:10 | Report abuse |
  18. G. R.R.

    This is more BS. The reason is that unless you can excise the virus out of EVERY SINGLE CELL, then there is ZERO chance of 'CURING' it. Now, there is a way to STOP it, and that is inactivate it. The problem with that, is that you will need to create a virus that cleaves into the HIV virus and breaks one or more of the proteins. It does this be recognizing a sequence of DNA. And with us having a trillion base pairs, it is just as likely to hit other places inactivating more proteins. So, what would work to inactivate HIV in one person will likely kill another person. And since virus spread, it means that any that we give would likely spread through society.

    December 15, 2010 at 15:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TheTeacherThePreacher

      You have less than zero idea of what your are talking about. Please don't confound the topic with hazy understanding

      December 15, 2010 at 15:58 | Report abuse |
  19. zombieak

    This is not right. As it state in the article, FROM 2008, he has been recently tested with more concrete tests. For three years he shown to be HIV free after a battery of every test we could possible throw at him. Also, it says the NO African Americans or Asians carry this GENE. That simply isn't true. The do carry it just not as many carriers as Northern Europeans or even North Americans.

    Obviously this is a big deal. Even if it isnt for everyone, as anyone who has done literally any amount of high-school or college-level science knows, it still helps point us in a more focused experimental direction. Someone just threw us a bone with this guy.

    December 15, 2010 at 15:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Clint

      Don't know but I think the mutation originated in Germany, plague victims? Africans and Asians never developed the mutation. So the question is does this mutation breed true if a German Caucasian has kids with and African or Asian. It takes a long time for a dominate gene to breed through a population. Especially if that population is not very mobile, until recently.

      December 15, 2010 at 15:30 | Report abuse |
  20. Greg

    AIDS/HIV is an almost entirely preventable disease. The vast majority of people with the disease got it from engaging in risky behavior. We should spend our resources finding cures for diseases we don't know how to prevent and that have no good treatment. What about people with those diseases? Why don't we try harder for them?

    December 15, 2010 at 15:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Clint

      What like HPV or Herpes or Hep C? Most diseases spread through risky behaviors. A treatment for HIV could in theory provide a roadmap for other viruses.

      December 15, 2010 at 15:36 | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      clint, like, say, huntington's disease or type 1 diabetes, eg. both caused entirely by genetic defects. we spend many hundreds of millions more on aids/hiv than on those diseases. why?

      December 15, 2010 at 17:01 | Report abuse |
    • Clint

      Huntington's affects less people. Your going to spend more resources where it helps more. There is also the bad thing of where is there more money? That is just the truth of the world.

      Diabetes type 1, is perfectly manageable with treatment. People with it can live full productive lives. Sure, sticking yourself with a needle every day is not ideal but again there isn't a great impetus to cure something that is not guarenteed terminal.

      Look the world is not an ideal place. Spending money to cure HIV/AIDS could lead to whole new way of treating all viruses. I am not saying a universal pancea. Just that what you discover in one area could very well have application in another. Imagine if you only had to get one vaccination for Flu ever or Hep became like small pox,vaccinated out of exsistance.

      December 15, 2010 at 17:54 | Report abuse |
  21. As

    Unfortunatly there's no cure because it's not a rich white man disease. For first 10 15 (maybe even 20 years) years AIDS and HIV was known to affect only gays and blacks. And it was assumed that god was punishing gays and blacks for supposed sin so no one took any real steps to cure aids or HIV. If it affected everyone like polio did there would have been a cure or at the very least 10-20 years more progress in curing it. But b/c of the stigma attached to it for so many years hampered the progress in curing it. And besides there's no profits to be made curing it. Even if they found a cure the cost of it would be so high that only 1% to 5% of the ppl infected would be able to get it.

    December 15, 2010 at 15:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TheTeacherThePreacher

      First of all, polio was never cured. It is only preventable through vaccination.
      Second, there as been more private and public money spent on AIDS treatment and vaccine research than for any other infectious disease. There is no other viral disease that is as treatable as HIV infection, although a practical and widely-applicable cure has been elusive, and the prospects for a potent vaccine have turned out to be essentially nil after clincal trials of vaccines using every old and cutting edge technology. The field of HIV/AIDS has been so saturated with funds and effort, and has yeilded such success, that it is now serving as the paradigm for the study and treatment of other viral infections (HepB and C and flu), and immunology in general.

      December 15, 2010 at 16:11 | Report abuse |
  22. masson1012002

    This is BS, because everyone knows where is the profit in curing a disease, when you can make so much money in treating the disease.

    December 15, 2010 at 15:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. bliztvon

    honestly I feel like they don't want to find a cure. it seems to me that theres some sort of reason they want to discourage people. it's a conspiracy.

    December 15, 2010 at 15:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. contradictory

    This article is some what contradictory and that makes few things questionable.

    "1. Even though their tests do not show a presence of HIV in his system, doesn't mean it's not there."
    "zero percent of African Americans or Asians have this particular genetic mutation"

    How can you be 100% sure that "no African Americam or Asians" have this gene , when you are not even sure that the virus is not gone 100%.

    December 15, 2010 at 15:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Clint

      Africans and Asians never had the population stresser that led to the mutation. Here is what most likely happened. A viral disease spread throughout the population of Europe. This disease had a high mortality rate. This led to the deaths of a great number of people that had absolutely no genetic dispostion to fight the virus. Leaving only people who were lucky enough to be isolated from contagion and those who were resistant. The resistant ones have kids, making kids who are even more resistant to infection because now they have resistance from both parents. If the infection comes through again, it gets the offspring that have a weaker resistance than the ones who have stronger. This means that the stronger resistant ones are selected to pass on even stronger resistance on to their offspring.

      December 15, 2010 at 16:29 | Report abuse |
  25. Good News Everybody!

    It is good to see progress in the research of eradicating this deadly disease. However, as infected person myself I am not holding my breath. I gave up on a cure in my lifetime long ago. Through all my research, there has never been a virus that has been able to be eradicated from a living persons body on a consisent basis with the patient surviving. There are innoculations for viruses, but those only prepare your immune system to do the work. To actually kill a virus that has taken it's grasp within the host just can't be done without killing the host. At least not in the traditional method. All treatments for EVERY virus that a person is infected with (HIV, HSV, HPV, Flu, etc.) only has treatments to supress the virus. Not eradicate it.

    Even if this line of research only leads to an innoculation, we will be on the right path. It is good news. I would love to see it developed into a cure, but I am not optomistic. At least we may be able to prevent future generations from becoming infected.

    December 15, 2010 at 16:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Joseph Wind

    hey, hiv was caused by gay men

    December 15, 2010 at 16:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alex

      Stupidity is caused and spread by bigots like you. Congrats, you moron! Go back under your rock!

      December 15, 2010 at 16:28 | Report abuse |
  27. Joseph Wind

    magic johnson has the cure, and so does the US government

    December 15, 2010 at 16:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Rich

    Greg, I am infected with HIV and am on meds. I was married to a woman, who, after having a fling, unknowing to her, was infected by her lover. I am totally innocent and I am now infected. I never ran around on her in my life. I am innocent, but now have a death sentence. I take issue with your statement.

    As to the other poster about the current meds do not have the side affects, wrong again. I vomit every day. I have other issues brought on by side effects of the meds, and the virus. I am seeing 3 drs. One of the meds is so damaging my heart and kidneys, and I am fighting heart disease because Lexiva causes abnormally high levels of the wrong things in your blood.

    As to the rest. Whether this is or isn't a cure, hey it is hope. And hope is about all I have, cause life stinks.

    December 15, 2010 at 16:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Linda

      @ Rich: I'm glad you said something about the drugs still having a negative affect on us, Rich. I'm in stage 3 kidney failure because of the meds. It seems to me, some lines of thought are, "I don't like using rubbers. If I get HIV, I'll just *take the meds*", and they do not realize the concequences of taking toxic meds for years and years (and the costs, financially, associated with it). My goal when I was told I had HIV (infected by my wandering husband) was to raise my child. I have. I'm thankful I stayed alive long enough to do so. Many folks and friends, did not.

      Oh, one thing. Innocent? No one wants a life threatening disease. No one. Not even my sibling who has COPD. In my opinion.

      December 15, 2010 at 18:34 | Report abuse |
  29. Charles

    1. "if they use a more sophisticated test..." How do you know what test was used? You think they wouldn't use the most sophisticated test available before announcing this ot the world?
    2. So don't bother looking? Also, do you think scientists around the world wouldn't try and create this mutation in a lab now that it's been found? How stupid are you?
    3. Bone marrow transplants are dangerous? SO IS AIDS AND CANCER!!! It's as though the person who wrote this started taking stupid pills as they typed. They have to take immune supressing drugs? Instead of chemo and/or AIDS suppressing drugs... hmm... ARE YOU INSANE? You do know you can't spread immune suppression like AIDS/HIV, right?
    4. It's expensive, as opposed to the free mediation for invasive diseases and viruses you can find anywhere, right? Seriously, is this a goverment representative trying to kill African-Americans again? Gupta, you let this page go out under your name?

    December 15, 2010 at 16:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Clint

      Answer to :

      1. why bother with the sophisticated test. This isn't a solution for HIV/AIDS patients or at least not in the near future. The sophisticated test costs big money and testing has to be repeated many times.

      2. We don't have the technology to splice in a change to DNA and then realistically know what the outcome will be. Playing with genetics is dangerous not just to the individual but to the population in general. You could inadvertantly make your kids susecptible to another disease that is harmless in unmodified people.

      3. The current antivirals are an effective treatment and work for almost the entire HIV/AIDS population. With low chances of causing death from the treatment. In bone marrow transplants, unless you find a very strong match, that occurs usually only in siblings, then the survival rate is something like 33%. That means only one third of the people survive the treatment, I don't know what their quality of life is. How many have to take antirejection drugs and such. Believe me when I say sometimes surviving the treatment is not always what you hoped for.

      4. Either treatment is expensive. Bone marrow transplant isn't a proven treatment for HIV/AIDS. Personally, I would hope that Government would put money to what is proven, while still funding research for a cure. Not waste resources on something that has only possibly cured one person.

      December 15, 2010 at 16:46 | Report abuse |
  30. John C

    Cure or not...The US is so behind on Stem Cell research because of religious nuts.....the future is not for the religious...its for science!....please stop voting for religious canidates!! They will get us no where!!

    December 15, 2010 at 16:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Clint

      I disagree, stem cells use to come from only one source. Unused Testtube babies, not aborted, the cells have to be obtained from a zygote about 100 cell size. Aborted fetuses are more on the thousand upon thousands of cells. I would not want to see rampant donation from people who are terminally ill, just on the very slim chance that it might save their life. That path only leads to quack meds. The ban in the U.S. actually led to something great. Researchers found ways to make mature cells revert back to stem cells. Ask yourself if they would've bothered if there was a plentiful supply of donated zygotes.

      December 15, 2010 at 16:55 | Report abuse |
  31. paul

    Having lved with HIV for the last 3 years I see that as an interesting news; I do not see it as viable applications for total cure however; I am taking meds ( 2 small pills in the morning) and have never had any side-effects of any kind; so replacing that meds that are very effective by auto-repressive drugs is not something I would consider at all.
    Enormous progresses have been made in the new HIV meds, not that I am particularly happy to be positive, but it became a chronical disease like many others; I hope they would find a cure of course at some point, and a vaccine too....for now, any positive developments is welcome and from that specific case may be they will find more practical applications.

    December 15, 2010 at 16:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. jangstman

    I did my college thesis partly on this topic. Very well written and accurate article by Dr. Gupta.

    December 15, 2010 at 16:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Chris B

    I think everyone is missing the signifigance of this. This guy had Cancer AND HIV and cured them both. Now while the method he used was risky I think it says alot which is that THEY CAN BE BEAT! While this isnt going to work for everyone if they can find out what it was in the stem cells that actually caused the eradication of the virus then they may be able to find a cure or mimic or replicate the results. The use of stem cells is interesting as well since we have known for years that babies that are born with HIV have been able to completly eradicate the virus yet we dont know how. My sister was born HIV+ and was tested ever couples months with positive results until just after her 2nd birthday. They couldnt explain it and said it just happens. Well maybe stems cells are to blame.
    Meanwhile everyone is debating whether this is a cure and guess what for this guy it was but not for everyone else or at least not yet. It is a start though.

    December 15, 2010 at 17:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. razzlea

    There is a possible cure but with a COST just like everything else in life.http://razzlea.blogspot.com/

    December 15, 2010 at 17:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. CN

    many of you are approaching this the wrong way. it's good to criticize these findings.

    it's the philosophy of self-criticism and skepticism that lets science and medicine grow.

    December 15, 2010 at 17:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. freecool

    How do we know for certain it was the mutated gene, that was the primary reason for the outcome. it could have been the chemo or other factors in the process. african american are a mix racial category of black, white and native american, how do they know what genes are being carried for certain without more testing. yet still i think just the procees itself regardless of the mutated gene can produce a almost similar outcome.

    December 15, 2010 at 17:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. doc

    Has anyone here ever seen someone go through a bone marrow transplant? It is a harrowing experience that is fraught with perilous complications including severe infections, mucositis, and graft-vs.-host disease. You have to wipe out a person's entire immune system using huge doses of toxic chemotherapy. Depending on the type of donor match, 100-day mortality can run over 50%! So, when you have well tolerated pharmacotherapy that works for the majority of HIV patients, why would you subject them to such needless risk?

    December 15, 2010 at 17:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • John

      I think people living with HIV can answer better this question. I'm pretty sure most of them would take the risk of a bone marrow transplant (of course if they find the proper donor, etc.) to get rid of HIV.

      December 15, 2010 at 18:47 | Report abuse |
    • Dr. A

      John, I highly doubt that the average person knowing the risks would undergo such a procedure. And the fact that you think so only tells me that you haven't the slightest idea what a BMT involves. Sorry to burst your bubble. So, keep on believing that this is a real HIV cure, maybe someday you'll realize 50 years from now that it's still not cure because this is not feasible on a large scale. Wait for something better to come along, this one is not the answer.

      December 15, 2010 at 19:00 | Report abuse |
  38. Pal

    This gave a new hope for HIV treatment but it will take long time to make this treatment for mass HIV patients. It is new so it is costly, most of the people cannot afford it. Secondly it is very complex matter. Treatment is for everyone not for only super rich people. until unless this treatment is accessible for every HIV patients till then it cannot be called as cure.

    December 15, 2010 at 17:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dr. A

      It's not about wealth. It's a mortality, and safety issue. Research the complications associated with bone marrow transplant and maybe you'll understand the real logistics behind it.

      December 15, 2010 at 19:03 | Report abuse |
  39. Omoz

    I find it funny when people attack pharma companies with the whole notion that they aren't in it to find a cure. Like if you found a cure there wouldn't be a windfall of cash coming your way. Especially if the cure were present as a vaccine. If anyone found the cure for something like cancer or HIV you would be able to bankroll your research for a long, long time. So I find it preposterous that finding a cure wouldn't be deemed "profitable." The reason we don't have many cures is because they are difficult to develop!

    December 15, 2010 at 17:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Jim

    hate to bust your bubble people but there is way too much money involved in hiv/cancer/many other diseases for anyone to find a cure. All most people care about is the drugs after you get said disease, which a much bigger cash cow. I have this from a top level cancer doctor in Los Angeles. Run all you want it won't produce a cure, unfortunately. Having said all that I sincerely hope I am wrong.

    December 15, 2010 at 18:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. mejazzbo

    The big money is not in having the cure. It's in developing a cure. Just like cancer. There will never be a cure.

    December 15, 2010 at 18:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. me

    thius nothing new.

    December 15, 2010 at 18:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Dr. A

    Yes, guys this is potentially a "cure" for this individual patient, but at what cost for the average Joe? This man REQUIRED a bone marrow transplant to save his life and they took advantage of an opportunity to simultaneous try a cure for his HIV.

    With a BMT you are irradiating the hell out of someone from head to toe and putting them at an immense risk of infections, permanent infertility (20-50%), endocrine dysfunction, cataracts, and severe vital organ damage. For HIV patients their survival is the same as the general public with today's medications and very safe, unlike the above option. According to Primum non nocere (first do no harm) it is completely unjustifiable that we physicians subject patients to this sort of risk when there are safer alternatives out there. Unless you've been in the med business (I'm talking nurses, docs) or had family go thru GVHD (post bone marrow transplant), you will never understand the horror of it. I've seen both children and adults suffer for days, weeks or months with intractable diarrhea or skin desquamation before perishing. You could not convince me to undergo bone marrow transplant as a cure for HIV. In short, a BMT is no little walk in the park – it's an attempt to cure a fatal condition.

    @Anon – You are confused. Of course noone says we should stop treating leukemia with BMT, because it's a last resort for a lethal malignancy!

    Transplants for nonmalignant diseases generally have survival rates of 70-90% if the donor is a matched sibling and 36-65% if the donor is unrelated.

    December 15, 2010 at 18:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. rong

    Very fascinating article that perhaps provides some incite into a possible cure. However the standard of the writing is appaling for an internationally recognized news agency

    December 15, 2010 at 19:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Kevin

    this is old news though. CNN covered this years ago

    December 15, 2010 at 19:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. cleo

    While yes this may not be a practical wide-spread cure; it does seem to be a good proof of concept for some sort of stem-cell gene therapy. it seems that it would at least be promising enough to spur a resurgence in research.

    It seems the real question here is more what exactly is the molecular mechanism here at work that defeats the virus replication – how could that particular mechanism be duplicated? It seems even if we could understand the molecular mechanism at work here we could be looking at a new family of drugs or maybe a vaccine.

    December 15, 2010 at 19:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Dr. Love

    the genetic mutation that was referred to in the article is survivors of the black plague that is why only the Europeans are the only viable source for the gene. Those people that have survivors of the black plague on both sides of their family are immune to HIV. There are 2% of the worlds population that is immune to the virus. This is a viable option to combat HIV although probably not for the next years or so until more testing is done

    December 15, 2010 at 20:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT!

    Before anyone complains anymore about this being such BS because they found a cure and aren't even going to utilize it, think again. Phase II trials are currently underway to reproduce this without having a bone marrow transplant. They reproduced this effect in a few patients using gene therapy and caused just a few cells to be able to withstand an attempted HIV infection. They checked it later and saw the cells were still healthy, reproducing, etc. This lasted in the patient for two years. They did it this way (only treating a few cells) to see if it would be safe in the person. It was, so they're trying it again, this time doing a much larger amount of cells. Doing it in this way would actually be far better than doing it via a bone marrow transplant, because they are taking the host's own cells and treating them to fight off HIV. Therefore, the host will not have the same effects of the body attempting to fight off a transplant cell, which effectively kills the patient altogether.

    Before we get all up in arms about the world not trying to use the cure that has already been found, pharma companies not wanting to find a cure because it will eat into their profits, and any other conspiracy theory, know that our brightest minds really are trying to find a cure for the 33 million infected, and a cure for me.

    December 16, 2010 at 01:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT!

    By the way, one last thing that I forgot to mention:

    They're not yet sure as to whether this will in fact be a cure if it lasts for two years, or if it will just be a damn good medication where you only have to go in once every two years to be treated. I would think that after one or two treatments, your body must be able to combat all of the reservoirs. However, maybe I'm wrong.

    December 16, 2010 at 01:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. I Can't Believe what I'm reading

    First off, I'd like to applaud, Clint, Rob, Set the Record Straight and a few others for trying to talk some sense into these guys. Second, how can it be a cure if it is unknown whether this man is fully cured? Like they said, HIV can be hidden then reappear.

    I like many of you, have hope that this disease will one day be cured, hopefully what has happened for this man will put on us on the right path to finding a cure, giving new ideas on how to find one. No I don't have HIV and cannot begin to image what the ones who have it are going through. Yes, I can see what you're getting at, but I don't think you should get your hopes up for this particular method. Sure you are willing to risk everything for a cure, but if the option is not available to you, then how can you risk anything? Willing but not able.
    To what one man said, we all have a death sentence sir, that was known when you were born. Unfortunately, this disease brings some closer to it.
    Back on topic, please don't gang up and be so quick to say CNN and the Pharma companies are the bad guys denying you of a cure. If any of you have some common sense, and I'm not trying to be harsh here, you would stop putting the negativity into this article. This is bs huh? No, not bs, TRUTH. It hurts. Now are they saying there will never be a cure? No they aren't, just that this "cure" isn't an option for the majority of people who need one. Science isn't as easy as you may think. I sure wouldn't want my friend, family, or even myself if I had it, to be so overjoyed and worked up over this "cure" only to be let down and disappointed to know it wasn't available to me, whether I was White, Black, or Asian (Black btw).

    Just be patient, we'll find a cure.

    December 17, 2010 at 08:10 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.