Hallelu and praise be to Deity, because functionally cured is still fucking cured!
This article from Southern California Public Radio and this article found on Yahoo discuss a miracle: a cured AIDS patient. This man suffered from HIV for years, and then developed leukemia, which is a cancer of blood and bone marrow. The leukemia was a separate condition from the HIV, but the treatment for leukemia is often chemotherapy or radiation therapy, both of which are designed to kill the immune system, which is, of course, the way that HIV turns into AIDS.
This man was freaking screwed.
Bone marrow transplants are also used to treat leukemia, but the prep for that is also killing the immune system, so that the body won’t reject and attack the new marrow. The procedure is very dangerous, and the result can actually kill the patient. Unfortunately, because Timothy’s leukemia wouldn’t stay in remission, he was forced to consider and then have a transplant. After two transplants, it not only put his leukemia into remission, it also seems to have cured his HIV.
Brown was lucky. His doctors specifically sought out a donor who would be a good match as well as having the markers for being resistant/immune to HIV. The donor was found and was willing to give not once, but twice (at least).
This is not going to be an option for everyone. The chances of finding available donors, who can make decent enough matches for patients as well as being immune to HIV, for most HIV patients are crazy slim. Chances are the procedure itself could actually kill many of the patients if someone was to attempt performing it on others. Further compromising the immune systems of patients who already suffer from AIDS or low T-cell counts is extremely risky. And even if a good match with the right immunity markers is found, and the patient survives the compromised immune system, there is always the chance of the body rejecting the transplant.
We now have hope that something can be done about this virus and accompanying syndrome. We have a new path, or at least some new light on the paths we may have already been exploring. We need to be supporting this.
My husband pointed out earlier that the transplant has also been referred to as a ‘blood stem cell’ transplant. He and I both worry that people won’t understand what that means, because in the USA, people often equate stem cells to aborted fetal cells, which is simply not the case. Stem cells are just cells that don’t really have specific purpose outside of renewal, replacement, or reparation unless they are manipulated into becoming another kind of cell. You can pretty much find them in most of the systems in your body.
I want to extend my sincerest congratulations to Timothy Brown and his doctors for the success of the treatment. Timothy is 20 months cured, but lets all hope that it is permanent!