Brazilian man becomes first person to be ‘cured’ of HIV with drugs alone
A 35-year-old Brazilian man who has gone into long-term remission after being diagnosed with an accelerated multi-drug regimen of AIDS drugs for less than a year has boosted expectations for a possible breakthrough on Tuesday July 7.
The man who tested HIV positive in 2012 was treated with an antiretroviral therapy or ART base that was boosted with additional antiretrovirals, plus a drug called nicotinamide (a vitamin B3 form).
His increased care was stopped after 48 weeks, and researchers who reported their results at this week’s virtual International Aids Society conference said that the patient has now been without HIV medication for more than 57 weeks and continues to test negative for HIV antibodies.
Dr Ricardo Diaz of the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, who led the study said he was “trying to wake up the virus” and boost the immune system’s ability to eliminate it once it’s flushed out of 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, but it will take more time to know.”
Professor Sharon Lewin, an HIV and infectious diseases expert at the University of Melbourne who was not involved in the research, said the fact that the patient has no antibodies was significant.
“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 is supportive of him being cured.
“It’s interesting, but it’s hard to know how significant it is when it’s just a single case. I’d also like to know what happened to the other patients.”
In the past five years, after undergoing high-risk stem cell bone marrow transplants to treat cancer, only two people known as “Berlin” and “London” patients seem to have been cured of the disease.
Since the AIDS epidemic started in the 1980s more than 75 million people have been infected. The virus also caused 33 million deaths