5th person cured of HIV, researchers say

Another person has been cured of HIV, according to findings published Feb. 20 in Nature

The 53-year-old man in Germany stopped receiving treatment for the virus four years ago and is now cured, researchers said. He is the fifth person to be cured of the virus after a stem cell transplant, ABC News reported. 

HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, weakens the body by attacking white blood cells. It has infected nearly 40 million people worldwide and can lead to AIDS, which has killed millions, according to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS

In the 2010s, the man was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and began chemotherapy. Because of his cancer, he underwent a stem cell transplant — a high-risk procedure for cancer patients who do not have many alternatives and possibly the reason his HIV infection disappeared. 

The researchers said the procedure is neither low-risk or "easily scalable" but has "relevance to cure strategies." Because the findings are based on one person, the study authors added that this case offers "important insights but is anecdotal by nature and lacks the power of controlled prospective studies."

Others have reported their own case studies of HIV patients either naturally cured, in which a person's immune system swept away the virus, or those in "sustained remission," a case dubbed as the "London patient."

"It's really [a] cure, and not just, you know, long-term remission," Dr. Björn-Erik Ole Jensen, the study's lead author, told ABC News. "This obviously positive symbol makes hope, but there's a lot of work to do."

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