‘I enjoy being healthy, this is a privilege:’ Woman who is second person in the world to be ‘naturally’ cured of HIV without the help of treatments says she is grateful to be virus-free

- Advertisement -


  • An Argentine woman, who is the second patient in the world to ‘naturally’ recover from HIV, says it is a ‘privilege’ to recover naturally from the virus
  • The woman, named ‘Esperanza Patient’ after the city she lives in, was identified by scientists from Buenos Aires and the Ragan Institute.
  • She is the second patient the Ragan Institute has identified as potentially cured – in more than a billion cells in her body, no HIV genetic material was found.
  • Studies suggest that approximately 0.5% of HIV-infected people have a uniquely strong immune response to the virus, out of the 38 million people living with it worldwide.
  • If scientists can identify the secret of these patients’ natural resistance to HIV, they could take advantage of it for new therapies—even a potential cure.

- Advertisement -

The world’s second patient to ‘naturally’ recover from HIV without the help of medication or other treatments is talking about how grateful she is to be virus-free.

The 30-year-old woman, whom the researchers call the ‘Esperanza patient’ after the city she lives in Argentina, was studied by a team in Buenos Aires and at Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT and Harvard’s Ragan Institute.

advertisement

Researchers analyzed genetic material from more than a billion cells in the patient’s body and saw no evidence of HIV.

They believe the woman is what is known as the ‘elite controller’ of the virus, a rare patient whose body is capable of suppressing the virus and shows no signs of infection.

- Advertisement -

‘I enjoy being healthy,’ she said NBC News over email in Spanish on condition of anonymity.

‘I have a healthy family. I don’t need to take medicine, and I live as if nothing has happened. It is already a privilege.’

Studies suggest that approximately 0.5 percent of HIV-infected people have a uniquely strong immune response to the virus, out of the approximately 38 million people currently living with the virus worldwide.

If scientists can identify the secret behind these patients’ resistance to HIV, they may be able to take advantage of it in new treatments for the virus that are less difficult to treat than patients’ current options.

Scientists have identified a second patient who has completely recovered from HIV through his own immune system, with no treatment (file image)

According to the CDC, in the US, HIV is most prevalent in several southern states, parts of the Northeast, Nevada, and California.

According to the CDC, in the US, HIV is most prevalent in several southern states, parts of the Northeast, Nevada, and California.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has been the top global public health crisis for the past two years, HIV/AIDS is also affecting millions of people worldwide.

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system and, if left untreated, can cause Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1.2 million people were living with HIV in the US at the end of 2019.

In that year, about 37,000 Americans were diagnosed with HIV. The virus disproportionately affects the LGBTQ+ community as well as Black and Latino Americans.

around the world, an estimated 38 million people living with HIV More than two thirds of these live in Africa.

HIV is a particularly challenging disease to treat because of the way this virus operates.

as a retrovirusIn human cells, it carries single-stranded genetic material called RNA, then fuses with those cells and turns them into factories that produce more copies of HIV.

Currently, the best treatment option for HIV patients is a combination of drugs called antiretroviral therapy (or ART), which stops the virus from making copies of itself in the body.

While this treatment can help people living with HIV live longer, healthier lives, they are tied to a daily medical regimen – which can be challenging and costly to maintain.

As a result, scientists are studying patients whose immune systems naturally resist HIV to identify new treatment options.

Xu Yu, an immunologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT, and Harvard's Ragan Institute, leads the team that identified both cured patients

Xu Yu, an immunologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT, and Harvard’s Ragan Institute, leads the team that identified both cured patients

A research group with this focus is led by Xu Yu, an immunologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT, and Harvard’s Ragan Institute.

Yu’s team has now identified two patients who have fully recovered from the virus, with no HIV viral sequence in their bodies.

Scientists call this a ‘sterilizing treatment’ – both patients were ‘sterilized’ from HIV without the help of any drugs or bone marrow transplants.

The first patient to recover was reported in a paper published in Nature in 2020.

Yu’s team sequenced more than a billion cells from this patient, called the ‘San Francisco patient’, and found no HIV present.

The second recovered patient was informed in a letter published on Monday In the Journal Annals of Internal Medicine,

Like the ‘San Francisco patient’, Yu’s team sequenced 1.19 billion blood cells and 500 million tissue cells from this patient – and found no evidence of HIV.

This second patient, called the ‘Esperanza patient’, lives in Esperanza, Argentina and was diagnosed with HIV in 2013.

Yu’s team has worked with scientists in Buenos Aires to sequence genomic material from this patient since 2017. according to state news,

‘These findings, especially with the identification of a second case, indicate that a vasectomy may be an actionable route to treatment for those who are not able to do it on their own. Yu said in a statement,

According to Yu, the two patients may have a unique ability within their killer T cells, a group of immune system cells that recognize and destroy cancer cells and other damaged cells.

If killer T cells neutralize enough cells infected with HIV, they can stop the virus from progressing – thus keeping patients from getting sick.

Scientists refer to HIV patients with this ability as ‘elite controllers’. Many of these patients show no symptoms of the virus and have very low levels of HIV in their bodies.

Studies estimate that around 0.5 percent of people living with HIV worldwide are elite controllers.

Gay and bisexual men, along with black and Latino Americans, are disproportionately vulnerable to HIV infection in the US

,

- Advertisement -
Mail Us For  DMCA / Credit  Notice

Recent Articles

Stay on top - Get the daily news in your inbox

Related Stories