53-year-old man becomes 5th person to be cured of HIV

HIV blood sample.
(Image credit: jarun011/Getty Images)

Researchers have announced that a 53-year-old man in Germany has become the fifth person in history to be cured of HIV. The patient, known as "the Dusseldorf patient," received a stem cell transplant ten years ago and has not taken HIV medication in four years, according to ABC News.

While being the fifth person cured, the Dusseldorf patient is only the third person to be cured through a stem cell transplant. From the time of the procedure, the virus has not been detectable in his body. "It's really cure, and not just, you know, long-term remission," said Dr. Bjorn-Erik Ole Jensen who published the findings of the case. The first reported cure was in 2009.

Stem cell transplants are high-risk procedures that are normally reserved for cancer patients. The Dusseldorf patient was the same, diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a deadly form of blood cancer, just after beginning treatment for HIV, Sky News reports.

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Over 35 million people currently live with HIV, but many cases are managed through medication, allowing them to live fairly normal lives. "Following our intensive research, we can now confirm that it is fundamentally possible to prevent the replication of HIV on a sustainable basis by combining two key methods," Jensen said referring to the anti-retroviral medications along with the transplants. "Further research is now needed into how this can be made possible outside the narrow set of framework conditions."

"Today, I am all the more proud of my worldwide team of doctors who succeeded in curing me of HIV - and at the same time, of course, of leukemia," the patient remarked.

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