Is There a Cure for HIV?

There is currently not a practical cure for HIV (please see Human Immunodeficiency Virus); however, recently for the first time ever a person has been successfully cured of the virus . The patient, an American man living in Germany, was being treated for leukemia when he received a stem cell transplant in 2007. The cell donor carried an extremely rare inherited gene mutation that supposedly protects the carrier against HIV infection. This rare compatible match between donor and patient allowed the transplant to eliminate both diseases, resulting in the first cure of HIV ever.

While this is an amazing discovery, experts claim that it is not a practical HIV cure for every HIV and AIDS infection because the mutation is extremely rare. Finding a potential donor who also carries the gene mutation is extremely difficult, and even if the correct donor could be found, the process is extremely painful and expensive to perform. For the patient, the transplant was necessary due to his leukemia, but otherwise it is a very dangerous operation. Instead, people should be tested periodically to reduce the spread of HIV and other STDs.

Fortunately, the patient has been off antiretroviral medication for three years now and appears to be in good standing. However, while he may be off his antiretroviral medications, he is now on a strict regimen of immunosuppressant drugs to prevent the rejection of the transplant cells. While it may not be a practical cure for HIV, the discovery definitely presents hope for the future of millions of people living with HIV.