17 November 2021
A woman from Argentina appears to have rid herself of HIV without drugs or treatment – the second documented case of its kind in the world.
Doctors believe the patient’s immune system cleared the virus on its own.
Tests on more than a billion of her cells found no viable trace of the infection, Archives of Internal Medicine reports.
If this process could be harnessed, it might offer a way to wipe out or effectively cure HIV, experts say.
Prof John Frater, from the University of Oxford, told BBC News while it was almost impossible to say if someone had been truly cured of HIV, the investigators had done “as much as could be asked of them with current technology” to prove it.
“The key question is whether this patient has actually cured themselves or, alternatively, had some form of abortive infection, which tried to get going but the embers were snuffed out early,” he said.
“Her immune system clearly shows a memory of having been infected, so there seems to be no question that she was.
“Regardless, there may be similar patients out there, offering much to learn in the search for a HIV cure.”
Prof Sarah Fidler, an expert in HIV medicine at Imperial College London, said the work would help inform immune therapies currently under development.