HIV: a patient cured of AIDS naturally without medical treatment

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HIV: a patient cured of AIDS naturally without medical treatment.

Miracles do happen. For the second time, a patient cured of AIDS naturally without medical treatment. This is a real ray of hope for the millions of people living with AIDS around the world. But how is this possible? Who are these people who have been cured of AIDS? What do the scientists think?

Who is this patient?

In Argentina, a 30 year old woman with HIV was completely cured of AIDS without any medical treatment. This is a real miracle when we know that this disease is incurable. She wished to remain anonymous and bears the pseudonym of “patient Esperanza“.

Diagnosed with HIV in 2013, she underwent complex medical monitoring. In 2017, international researchers were interested in her DNA, and in 2020, they wanted to examine her placenta, after she gave birth. After sequencing billions of cells, researchers from the University of Buenos Aires, Harvard and MIT said that no traces of HIV were detected.

In addition, “patient Esperanza” had a daughter who is not HIV positive. During her pregnancy, she only received triple therapy antiretroviral treatment for a few months in 2017, during a pregnancy.  She is expecting a second child with her partner.

Scientifically  

This is the second time that the scientific community has observed this type of natural healing phenomenon for AIDS.

On Monday, November 15, an article published in the scientific journal « Annals of Internal Medicine », says that the “patient Esperanza” managed to get rid of the virus without any medical treatment. This shows that the human body is capable of recovering from the human immunodeficiency virus on its own. The analysis of the 1.1 billion cells of this patient did not identify the presence of HIV. They then took 150 million TD4 lymphocytes (the type of white blood cells infected with HIV), tried to get the virus out of them in vitro, which is usually very easy, and they couldn’t. The analysis they did on this patient is just amazing.

This absence of HIV despite the magnitude of the test “suggests that this patient may have naturally achieved a sterilizing cure of HIV-1 infection.”

On the other hand, the analyses did identify fragments of viral genes that make it possible to affirm that the patient was indeed infected with HIV at some point.

Worldwide, only 4 people have been declared “cured” of AIDS. These people went from positive to negative in a few months without treatment. 

Who is the second case of natural healing?

Is it possible to cure AIDS naturally? Yes, there is a second case of natural healing. It is about the “patient of San Francisco”, 67 years old. Her name is Loreen Willenburg. She had managed to cure AIDS thanks to her natural immunity. Her case was shared by the scientific community in 2020.

Other cases of recovery thanks to a stem cell transplant.

Two other AIDS patients have also been declared cured of AIDS. They are the “London patient” and the “Berlin patient”. The “London patient” is named Adam Castillejo. His story was published in theNew York Times. You can learn more about the “Berlin patient” whose name is Timothy Ray Brown.

But unlike the patient “Esperanza”, they had received a stem cell transplant because they were also suffering from cancer. It is the donor’s immune cells that seem to have blocked the HIV infection.

What do the scientists think?

With this new case of natural healing, the scientific community wants to focus on these “elite controllers”, i.e. those people whose immune system would have succeeded naturally in removing all traces of HIV. The study of these patients is a real breakthrough for researchers.

Dr. Xu Yu (a researcher at the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT and Harvard) explained to Time that the discovery of this second case suggests that, although rare, elite controllers may be more numerous.

She continues:

“It was really the miracle of the human immune system that did it.”

« Many immune factors could play a role,” she said. “If we have a cohort of these extremely rare cases, it will allow us to really analyze their immune responses more thoroughly and broadly and hopefully give us a clue as to what immune factors contribute most to this condition,” she explains. “Then we can apply what we learn to the general population.  ».

This gives us hope that a natural cure for HIV is actually possible.”

Monsef Benkirane, the director of the molecular virology laboratory at the Institute of Human Genetics at the University of Montpellier, was interviewed on Franceinfo on the subject.

He stated:

The study is extremely serious. All the teams involved are leading teams in this field. They had just published an article in the journal Nature on what are called “elite controllers”, patients who control the virus [without being cured] spontaneously without any treatment. We know about them, we know that they represent about 0.5% of the population. “

He added:

In the elite controllers, those patients who spontaneously control the infection, we know that there is a very strong CD8 T-cell immune response [another type of white blood cell] that is not seen in other patients. About 50% of them carry a gene that also promotes their immune response. Does this, under certain conditions, eliminate any trace of virus that can reproduce? One can imagine it.

Serawit Bruck-Landais, director of the Quality and Health Research Unit of Sidaction, gives more explanations on the cases of cures.

He explains on Franceculture :

The cases of the Esperanza patient and the San Francisco patient are very similar: they are patients who no longer have traces of the virus even though they have not been on treatment, so they are “natural” recoveries“. 

“People who are in this situation (having controlled the virus without treatment) represent about 1% of people living with HIV. These people have significant immunological diversity, but they are people who were controlled within the first month of infection. They have much more efficient immune cells. This is what researchers are looking into to understand how we can achieve control of the virus without treatment. For the moment, we are still in the research phase.”

Why is there no cure for AIDS with drugs?

Current treatments for AIDS are based on antiretroviral drugs. They prevent the multiplication of HIV in the patient’s body, but they do not allow the disease to be eradicated and cured. Antiretrovirals allow AIDS patients to have an almost normal life.

A little reminder about AIDS and how you get it?

What is HIV/AIDS?

HIV is a retrovirus. That is, it is a virus that has no DNA, but RNA (ribonucleic acid). The organism transforms and integrates it into our genome. Once it has been internalized, it is very difficult to eradicate it, because it is part of our genome and multiplies as much as the cells. It is a virus that causes human immunodeficiency, and it mutates a lot, which prevents it from being well targeted by the immune system. It attacks the immune system and prevents it from functioning normally. A person who is HIV positive is a carrier of HIV. They can transmit it even if they have no symptoms of illness.

There is no cure for AIDS, but the multiplication of the virus inside the body is controlled by anti-retroviral drugs to allow patients to live longer. The treatments involve the combination of several drugs “tritherapy, multitherapy”. They have many undesirable effects, even if the latest treatments are better tolerated.

A few figures

38 million people were living with AIDS worldwide in 2020, with 1.5 million infected that year, according to UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV.

AIDS-related mortality has declined by 53 percent among women and girls and 41 percent among men and boys since 2010. 680,000 people died of AIDS in 2020.

How is it transmitted?

If one of the partners is infected and has HIV, there is contamination.

The transmission is done :

  • during sexual relations through the different mucous membranes (vagina, cervix, anus or glans) by semen, seminal fluid (the drop before ejaculation), vaginal secretions, blood (during menstruation)
  •  rom the mother to the child during pregnancy, but especially during childbirth and while breastfeeding. Treatment is given to the mother to prevent the passage of the virus and to the child in the first weeks of life: this has reduced the transmission rate to less than 1%.
  • During needle exchange in the case of drug users.
  • During piercing, tattooing realized in a frame not respecting the rules of hygiene and asepsis.

All these cures give hope to researchers. We can underline the numerous progresses, where people can now live with the virus and not transmit it.  

By following closely, these naturally cured AIDS patients. They will be able, God willing, to find a treatment that will bring deliverance and happiness to many HIV patients.

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