A gay man who has lived with HIV since the 1980s has become only the fifth ever person to be cured of HIV, according to doctors.
The 66-year-old, who does not want to be identified, was given a bone marrow transplant to treat blood cancer leukaemia from a donor who was naturally resistant to the virus.
Doctors say the individual, who has stopped taking antiretroviral HIV medication, has now been in remission for 17 months.
Now being referred to as ‘the City of Hope patient’ – named after the Californian hospital he was treated in – the man said he was “beyond grateful” the virus could no longer be found in his body.
“When I was diagnosed with HIV in 1988, like many others, I thought it was a death sentence.
“I never thought I would live to see the day that I no longer have HIV,” the patient said in a statement.
‘The City of Hope patient’ was initially given the therapy, not for his HIV, but because he developed the leukaemia at the age of 63.
To replace his cancerous cells, the man was then given a bone marrow transplant, and it just so happened, the donor was resistant to HIV.
This is because the donor had a mutation in their CCR5 protein, the microscopic doorway HIV uses to get into our body’s white blood cells.
It’s this mutation that kept HIV out of the 66-year-old’s system.
The man becomes the fifth patient ever to be ‘cured’ of HIV; the first being ‘Berlin Patient’ Timothy Ray Brown, second being a ‘London Patient’ who chose not to reveal his identity, the third was declared just days after the second, and the fourth was the first-ever woman believed to be cured.
A 36-year-old Brazilian man was also cleared of the virus and is thought to be the first ever person to be ‘cured’ of HIV with medication alone, however four other anonymous patients were not cleared.