In a disappointing turn for HIV research, two men who were thought to have possibly been cured of HIV after bone marrow transplants have seen the virus return:
The patients, both of whom had been living with HIV for years, had each received bone marrow transplants several years ago to treat the blood cancer lymphoma. The treatment appeared to have made HIV retreat to undetectable levels in their blood.
At the time of the announcement in July, one man had been off anti-retroviral drugs for 15 weeks and the other for seven weeks.
But the virus returned in one patient in August and the other patient in November, said Dr. Timothy Heinrich, infectious diseases associate physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Boston Globe first reported. Both have since resumed taking HIV medication.
Timothy Ray Brown, known as “the Berlin patient,” received a bone marrow transplant along with chemo and radiation back in 2007, is still considered to be “cured.” But his transplant came from a donor who had a rare genetic mutation known as CCR5-delta32. The two Boston patient’s donor did not have this mutation.