- An unnamed woman in Argentina has been declared “cured” of HIV without having received a stem cell transplant.
- Only once before has anyone been reported naturally cured of HIV – Loreen Willenburg from San Francisco in 2020.
- Previously, two other people were cured of HIV – the “Berlin patient” and the “London patient” – but only after receiving stem cell transplants.
Researchers have identified the second person ever to get rid of HIV without medical treatment, according to an article published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The patient, an unnamed woman living in Argentina, was diagnosed with human immunodeficiency virus in 2013.
Since 2017, an international team of researchers has searched the patient’s DNA in search of traces of the virus. They even checked her placenta after she gave birth in March 2020, the STAT reported. After sequencing billions of cells, researchers have confirmed that the woman is HIV-free.
Modern medicine has allowed many people to live with the virus under control, but they typically require consistent antiretroviral treatment to prevent the virus from replicating.
Four people in history have been reported “cured” of HIV. However, two of them – the “Berlin patient” and the “London patient” were cured after receiving stem cell transplants, a risky procedure that scientists have tried to repeat with other patients, without success.
Only once before have scientists found a confirmed case of a person who has removed the virus completely from their system. In 2020, scientists shared a report on Loreen Willenburg – or the “San Francisco patient” as doctors called her – which was the first known case of a sterilizing cure without a medical intervention.
Willenburg and the unnamed patient in Argentina are known as “elite controllers”, people whose immune systems naturally control HIV.