Even after decades, scientists and researchers have yet to discover a cure for HIV. Treatment for HIV has indeed come a very long way to the point where those infected with HIV who are diligent with their medicine taking can actually bring the viral loads in their bodies down to undetectable levels.
Obviously, a cure would be ideal, but scientists are learning more each day. In fact, recently it has been reported that a woman in the US is now the third known person in the world to have entered into HIV remission, meaning that she’s no longer taking her medication but her viral loads are essentially undetectable.
What’s interesting is that this woman is of mixed race. This is an important distinction because the woman had previously received a leukemia diagnosis and chemotherapy had destroyed her blood cells. This required her to receive a stem cell transplant which was taken from a national repository that allowed researchers to identify blood that had a HIV-resistant mutation.
This mutation was previously associated with the two other cases of HIV remission, but it seems to be a mutation found in people of northern European descent, meaning that it limited the ability to transplant it into people who weren’t of that descent. This is why it was important to note that this woman was of mixed race.
However, before we get too excited, researchers have cautioned that this might not necessarily be the cure we are hoping for simply because it’s not necessarily an appropriate treatment for those who do not require the transplant. These types of transplants have been found to be fatal for about 20% of people, and could also cause other health problems.