It was 12 years between the first and second patients being declared HIV free, but in an astonishing announcement, the third has been announced days later.
We reported on Tuesday that a London man had been hesitantly declared ‘cured’ by the group of specialists treating him, and was the second in history to have successfully received a new and risky treatment involving a bone marrow transplant, from a donor with a unique genetic marker that gives HIV resistance.
Now just days later, the same team have announced that another patient they were treating in the same way, this time from Düssldeorf, is also ‘functionally cured’.
He stopped taking ART (Antiretroviral Therapy) three months ago and there continues to be no evidence of infectious HIV in his system.
Each of the three patients were being given the procedure with that aim of treating cancer, so while a bone marrow transplant is not a viable option as a common cure for HIV infection, it does give us hope that we’re getting closer to a permanent cure.
It should also not be forgotten that with preventative measures like PrEP, regular testing, and condom awareness, we can start to bring down the number of new infections.
For people currently living with HIV, being on the proper antiretroviral medication means being able to live a normal, healthy life, and when the viral load of the host becomes undetectable (meaning levels of HIV in the body are so incredibly low that a HIV test comes back negative), it is then impossible to transmit the virus to a partner.
It comes after the UK met their UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets back in November, years before the 2020 deadline.
In the UK, 92% of people living with HIV have been diagnosed, 98% of those are now on treatment, and 97% of those have an undetectable viral load meaning they can’t pass on HIV.
It means the UK Government are in a good place to deliver on their promise of eradicating new HIV transmissions in the next decade.
Making the announcement at the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF), Evening Standard and Independent’s AIDSfree Cities Global Forum in London, Secretary of State for Health & Social Care, Matt Hancock MP said: “Today we’re setting a new goal: eradicating HIV transmission in England by 2030. No new infections within the next decade. Becoming one of the first countries to reach the UN zero infections target by 2030.”