Patient Cured of HIV with Stem Cell Transplant
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Patient Cured of HIV with Stem Cell Transplant

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Sofía Garduño By Sofía Garduño | Journalist & Industry Analyst - Tue, 02/28/2023 - 10:25

Replacing bone marrow cells of HIV patients with HIV-resistant stem cells from a donor has proved to be effective in the treatment of this disease. A 53-year-old man has been declared free of the virus after being subjected to this procedure. This technique, initially designed to treat leukemia, has been successful in the treatment of three patients with HIV. 

“For years, antiretroviral therapy (ART) has been given to people with HIV with the aim of lowering the virus to almost undetectable levels and preventing it from being transmitted to other people. But the immune system keeps the virus locked up in reservoirs in the body, and if an individual stops taking ART, the virus can begin replicating and spreading,” explains Nature.

Similar transplants have been performed on patients affected by both HIV and cancer, but it is still too early to know whether those individuals have been cured. Although results from this research give hope, scientists highlight that HIV is not curable as this treatment involves risks too high to use in patients without cancer. 

Globally, 1.5 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2020. During 2021, 14,274 new HIV cases were diagnosed in Mexico. In 2020, 680,000 people died from HIV related illnesses worldwide and 4,557 people lost their lives in Mexico from the same disease. 

To prevent HIV, people must use protection during sexual relations and avoid contact with needles that have been previously used by others. Also, the Ministry of Health promotes the use of Prophylaxis Pre-Exposition (PrEP), which reduces the risk of HIV contagion by over 90%. PrEP is recommended for those who do not use sexual protection, have HIV positive sexual partners who are not under viral suppression or use drugs.

Mexico has committed to eradicate and prevent HIV and is one of the eight countries where the Mosaico HIV vaccine is being tested. Currently, the vaccine is in Phase 3 trials. Although results will be available in approximately four years, Mosaico hopes to be able to counter HIV contagion and the AIDS epidemic.

Mosaico is not the only initiative working on the development of an HIV vaccine. Biotech firm Moderna and the International AIDS Vaccine initiative announced in January 2022 the start of a new  phase in the development of a vaccine to prevent HIV infection, as reported by MBN.

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