A colored scanning electron micrograph of H.I.V. particles, in yellow, infecting a host cell. The patient received cord blood from a donor with the mutation that blocks H.I.V.’s entry into cells. Image Credit: Thomas Deerinck, NCMIR/Science SourceHealth USA
She’s the First Woman to Be Cured of H.I.V.
An American mixed-race woman became the third person in the world – and the first woman – to be cured of H.I.V. using umbilical cord blood as a new transplant method, thus giving hope in curing a larger array of patients.
The middle-aged woman took antiretroviral drugs following her H.I.V. diagnosis in 2013. In 2017, she was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia and she received cord blood from a donor with the mutation that blocks H.I.V. ‘s entry into cells, as well as blood from a close relative to temporarily boost her immune defenses.
“The transplant from the relative is like a bridge that got her through to the point of the cord blood being able to take over,” explains Dr. Marshall Glesby, an infectious diseases expert at Weill Cornell Medicine of New York.
Two male patients were previously cured of H.I.V. thanks to bone marrow transplants from donors who carry a mutation blocking H.I.V. infection. The woman’s case offers promising results since women account for more than half of H.I.V. cases worldwide but make up only 11% of participants in cure trials. Out of the 38 million people living with H.I.V., some 73% receive treatment.