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Did cancer treatment leave two men HIV-free?

Did cancer treatment leave two men HIV-free?

The quest to cure the HIV virus has been taking a precedence for a generation now, and some of the most promising advances have come from the research on other diseases.

In a story filed by NBC News, two men who had undergone bone marrow treatment for their cancer appear to no longer be carrying the AIDS virus.

While the physicians are reluctant to claim a cure, it has been four months since the two men have stopped taking their HUV drugs, and still remain free of the virus.

Dr. Timothy Henrich of the Brigham and Women's Hospital, as well as the Harvard Medical School, stated,

“While these results are exciting, they do not yet indicate that the men have been cured.”

The cases involving these two men were initially reported by Dr. Henrich and Dr. Daniel Kuritzkes, along with their associates, at an AIDS conference in July 2012 after a search for leukemia and lymphoma patients were actively sought after.

The purpose of the search was an attempt to replicate the case involving Timothy Brown, who was treated for his leukemia using a bone marrow transplant that used marrow from a person who had a genetic mutation that resists HIV infection. Brown is still free from HIV five years later.

While this and other cases that seemingly have allowed these patients to remain HIV free, the nature of the virus precludes anyone from shouting 'Eureka!' too soon.

Kevin Robert Frost, the CEO of the Foundation for AIDS Research, stated,

"There never is an 'aha' moment when you suddenly can declare a cure. It is impossible to prove the absence of something."

HIV, which causes AIDS, is transmitted sexually, through blood, on infected needles, at childbirth and in breast milk.

Dr. Henrich states there is much debate as to when to confirm a patient cured, because there really isn't a definition of what cured is.

About Al Stefanelli

Al is a retired author, writer and journalist. His books include "Free Thoughts - A Collection Of Essays By An American Atheist" and "A Voice Of Reason In An Unreasonable World - The Rise Of Atheism On Planet Earth." Al began writing in 1985, starting with the New York Times. In 1993 he joined a McClatchy newspaper, writing a weekly column for ten years. His writing continues to be widely distributed on the Internet and in print. He also produced and hosted a weekly syndicated radio broadcast from 1995 to 1998, and his work won a North Carolina Journalism award in 1998. Al is the former Georgia State Director for American Atheists, Inc., and served on the Board of Directors for "The Clergy Project." He is also a former Southern Baptist Pastor, having served two churches and as pulpit supply for three counties. Currently, he writes part time for The God Discussion, co-hosts the Internet radio programs, "The God Discussion Show" and "Reap Sow Radio." Al lives in the Atlanta suburb of Peachtree City, GA.
  • Retest the findings. I'm sure there might be some people with HIV willing to volunteer to see if the findings are repeatable, just as there are people who volunteer to test new drugs. We have two people who appear cured, but what if there were enough volunteers, with HIV, willing to undergo cancer/bone marrow treatment to see if these findings are true? Of course, these two men could return for a retest in 6 months to see if the HIV is still gone, but that isn't enough to prove anything, in part because these are just two people. There is a theory that a virus causes cancer, such as with HPV, and women, esp are now given a vaccine for it at an early age. What if, HIV is a similar "cancer" and the treatment is like that of Leukaemia? Of course, reading the article again, it sounds like that is what the researchers are trying to do- find volunteers willing to try a bone marrow transplant to see if the results can be repeated. The problem is, bone marrow transplants, from what I understand, are very painful for both the doner and the donee, so finding volunteers might not be that easy. They would need to find both people willing to donate healthy bone marrow, as well as volunteers willing to receive healthy bone marrow, and given the level of pain associated with it the process, it might be easier to find people infected with HIV willing to try it than it would be to find people willing to donate. That and the doner would need to be a match, so repeating the process might not be as easy as suggesting it. Now that I think about it, it really is more complicated than just saying, "Let's see if we can repeat the findings."

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