Woman from Argentina Cured of HIV Without Treatment
Approximately 38 million people worldwide are infected with HIV. HIV triggers auto immunodeficiency disease or AIDS, which was the cause of death of 690,000 people worldwide in 2020. Although HIV is incurable, the most effective therapy so far is antiretroviral therapy, which helps maintain the virus under control and live a longer life.
An Argentinian woman became the second known case who managed to free herself from HIV without antiretroviral therapy, exclusively owing to her immune response. Experts from Argentina and Massachusetts have attempted to investigate how the woman managed to exterminate the virus without stem cell therapy, medication, or any alternative treatment options.
They conducted a study involving the collection of the woman’s blood samples in the period from 2017 to 2020 and found no trace of HIV cells in her DNA. This sparked hope that the human immune system might be capable of eradicating HIV on its own.
It remains unknown which mechanisms underlie the eradication of HIV from the patient’s body. According to the study’s lead author, Dr. Xu Yu, it could have been a multifaceted immune response, including cytotoxic T cells, which destroy virally infected cells, and other immune mechanisms. The woman is believed to have reached a sterilizing cure that completely extracts the viral cells from the body, as opposed to the functional cure provided by antiretroviral therapy.
There is only one more familiar case where a Californian woman aged 67 managed to rid herself of HIV, and these two patients are considered “elite controllers.” Yu suggests that 1 in 200 HIV-infected patients can exterminate the virus relying only upon their immune response.