News Stories for Authors: Cure for HIV?

What would you think of a miracle cure for HIV that was too expensive and too labor intensive to cure most of the people who have HIV?

Well, that may be exactly what has occurred for two patients who are seemingly testing negative for the disease after receiving a bone marrow transplant for lymphoma.

Now, if that’s not a medical thriller, I don’t know what is.

Here are some of the highlights of the article that discusses this “cure”. I put that in quotation marks because two patients with no evidence of disease (NED) does not a proven cure make. Much, much more research needs to be done.

1. Evidently, when people with HIV receive bone marrow transplants, they stop taking their HIV meds. In these two cases, the patients continued to take their HIV medication.

2. From #1, it is theorized that continuing to take their HIV medication kept the virus from taking hold once the new immune system was transplanted because the viral load was kept low.

3. Since the bone marrow transplant, both patients stayed on their HIV medication for a period of time but have now stopped taking their medication. One for seven weeks and the other for 15 weeks and the virus has not returned. This does not mean that it won’t at some point but this does sound very promising.

4. One patient was transplanted with cells that carried a mutation, CCR5, that evidently prevents infection with HIV by blocking it from infecting the immune system. This is an area of interest for research in gene therapy.

All good news, right?

Well . . . maybe. From the article . . .

“Many clinicians would agree, however, that the three possible treatment options described in the article– including that used in the two highlighted cases– are not practical in a treatment setting, or may present too many safety and tolerability risks for the vast majority of HIV- infected patients.”— emphasis mine. 

My thoughts: Bone marrow transplants are arduous procedures. They are timely and expensive. It’s hard to find donors as they have to be an HLA match. Hence, donor registries.

According to the CDC, nearly 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the US alone. World wide there are 33.4 million people.

Sadly, what it will come down to if this proves to be a cure is who can afford it or not. This is one thing I fear with more and more health systems being run by governments. It’s pencil pushers deciding who gets treatment or not. Who gets the cure or not.

What do you think? If this proves to be a cure, how does everyone get it? Should everyone get it despite the expense?

A true cure for HIV or just another plot for a medical thriller? Click to Tweet.

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