• Man with HIV in remission for 18 months after stem cell transplant

    By: Dave Huddleston , Michelle Ewing, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

    Updated:

    LONDON - After decades of trying to slow or eradicate the virus that causes AIDS, doctors now have a second patient who no longer takes medication to fight HIV. 

    According to The Associated Press, an unnamed London man diagnosed with human immunodeficiency virus in 2003 received a stem-cell transplant in 2016 to treat Hodgkin lymphoma.

    He has been in remission for 18 months. His donor had an uncommon, HIV-resistant genetic mutation called CCR5-delta 32, CNN reported.

    Another man, Timothy Ray Brown of California, aka the "Berlin patient," has been HIV-free for more than a decade after receiving two similar transplants.

    Channel 2’s Dave Huddleston spoke with Dr. Zandraetta Tims-Cook, an infectious disease doctor with Wellstar in Atlanta, about the cases. While the news is exciting, doctors aren't ready to call it a cure just yet. 

    “These cases inform a lot of the science we’re building upon to get a cure, but the reality is we are not quite there,” Tims-Cook said.


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    The story has a huge local impact because doctors at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say metro Atlanta has HIV cases near epidemic proportions often compared with developing countries.

    This past August, the CDC said Atlanta is ranked fourth-worst in the country. Tim-Cooks says she sees two to three new HIV patients a day. 

    Scientists cannot offer stem cell transplants to all HIV patients and it wouldn’t work for everyone, according to Tim-Cooks. But she told Huddleston they now know they are moving in the right direction. 

    The doctor also told Huddleston that we are more likely to see new drugs from the discovery and vaccines. 

    The London patient's case study will appear Tuesday in Nature, an international science journal. Researchers also discussed their findings at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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