Two HIV-positive male patients at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital have been able to stop taking their anti-retroviral drugs after undergoing bone marrow transplants, the BBC reports. Both men developed lymphomas, leading to the transplants, and both had been living with HIV for about 30 years. After the transplant, there were no detectable HIV cells in the patients’ blood for two years in one case and four in the other. Recently a decision was made to suspend their anti-viral drugs for 15 weeks and seven weeks respectively. There has been no sign of HIV returning.
Spokespeople for the hospital are being very cautious about the potential implications of the successful procedures, and say they have not found a cure for HIV. This is wise; a similar case in March of this year, where a newborn baby was treated for HIV and then tested negative for the virus, received some criticism after headlines propagated the claim that a cure had been found.
But researchers are suggesting the development has important implications for future treatment of HIV. There have been other recent breakthroughs in HIV prevention and treatment, including a $1 plastic chip that diagnoses HIV (and syphilis) in about 15 minutes–a huge development for Africa.